Lawmakers push for repeal of Obamacare’s tax increase on braces

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

House Republicans and Democrats are making another push to repeal a $29 billion tax increase contained in President Obama’s health care law that is expected to raise the price of medical devices such as braces.

“[The medical device tax] will reduce patient access to cutting edge medical products and treatments that save lives,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., in a statement on the bill yesterday.

The Congressional Budget Office said last year that repealing the Obamacare provision would cut taxes by $29.1 billion over a ten year period.

“While the tax will be paid to the IRS by the manufacturer, the tax will be passed along as a higher cost of the product, ultimately to be borne by the parent buying the braces for their child,” Americans Tax Reform noted in a commentary on the tax.  “With the cost of braces being as high as $7,625 this new tax could raise the cost of these braces by $175.”

And if the cost isn’t passed onto consumers, lawmakers fear it will kill jobs. “Northeast Indiana is the orthopedic capital of the world,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said after joining the 175 co-sponsors of the bill, noting that 20,000 people in his state work in the medical device industry. “However, these jobs are leaving the state due to the 2.3 percent tax that’s being levied on Indiana companies under Obamacare. According to some studies, the President’s tax hike could eliminate more than 2,000 Hoosier high-paying jobs.”

It’s not just Republicans crying wolf on the tax: Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., is also one of the lead sponsors. “Repealing the medical device tax eliminates barriers to medical innovation, ensuring patients have access to life saving technologies and reduces the burden on tight R&D budgets, spurring job growth in the industry,” Kind said in his statement on the bill.



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