ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democrats in Minnesota’s congressional delegation are in a bind over a bill by Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen to eliminate a tax on medical devices like those made by Medtronic and other Minnesota companies.
The 2.3% tax on devices such as pacemakers and stents would provide $29 billion over the next decade for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). Democrats justify the tax on the grounds that PPACA would expand insurance coverage to 30 million people who were previously uninsured, and with all those new patients, the industry is likely to see demand for its products expand.
But Paulsen said the tax endangers 35,000 jobs in Minnesota and thousands more elsewhere. His bill to repeal it has 240 co-sponsors, including 11 Democrats, and it’s expected to get a vote later this week.
House leaders appear to be preparing to send the bill to the floor in a package that will include several bills that would affect flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). One of the bills, H.R. 1004, could eliminate the requirement that FSA holders forfeit any account balances that remain unused at the end of the plan year.
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“A lot of Democrats, they’re fearful to acknowledge that the new health care law has a lot of imperfections, and privately they’ll tell you there’s a lot of problems with it,” Paulsen told Minnesota Public Radio.
Democratic U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken support repealing the tax.
“I realize that cutting the tax would mean less money for the health care bill,” Klobuchar said at a medical industry event last week. She said the medical device tax was added to PPACA.
But that’s not quite what happened back when Congress hammered out the plan, said Paul Van de Water, a fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.