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Medical device tax stirs calls for delay or repeal

– There is talk on Capitol Hill about trying to postpone the 2.3 percent tax on medical device sales that is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Hoosier congressmen who oppose the tax say efforts are under way to delay its implementation for a year or two.

“One year would give time again to Congress and the president to put together a larger package” of legislation related to the federal health care law, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said Thursday.

“We are working very hard to try to get a one-year extension on the medical device tax,” Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, said a day earlier.

Donnelly, elected Nov. 6 to a Senate seat, voted for the health care law in 2009 but joined with House Republicans in a June vote to repeal the tax. The Democratic Senate has not taken up the repeal.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., also opposes the tax.

The excise tax is among the funding mechanisms for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Stutzman said any proposal to delay the tax will likely be part of a fiscal plan Congress is working on to avoid $600 billion in tax increases and automatic spending cuts scheduled to occur in January.

The Medical Device Manufacturers Association said more than 50 industry executives were meeting with lawmakers Thursday to urge repeal of the tax. The MDMA provided few details on the lobbying effort, including whether executives at Warsaw’s Big Three orthopedic device makers – Biomet, DePuy and Zimmer – took part.

Stutzman said MDMA members likely were visiting lawmakers who are undecided on whether the tax should be repealed.

“Now’s the time to be talking,” Stutzman said. “I don’t know what the next six weeks bring. … If it means overriding things.”

Proponents of the medical device tax contend its cost will be more than offset by a huge increase in potential customers who lacked medical insurance before the Affordable Care Act.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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