Committee Passes Bill To Repeal Reform Law’s Medical Device Tax
On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted 23-11 to approve a bill (HR 436) that would repeal a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices created to help fund the federal health reform law, Reuters reports (Temple-West, Reuters, 5/31).
The tax on makers and importers of certain medical devices is scheduled to go into effect in January 2013. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the tax will raise $2 billion annually for the overhaul. Republicans, some Democrats and medical device manufacturers have said the tax puts jobs at risk and impedes innovation (California Healthline, 5/31).
According to Reuters, the bill passed nearly along party lines. Two Democrats from states with large device makers voted in favor of the measure. Other Democrats criticized Republicans for failing to issue a plan to replace the funds for the overhaul if the tax is repealed.
The bill is expected to pass easily in House during a vote that could be held as early as next week, Reuters reports. However, the measure could face challenges in the Democratic-led Senate, where similar legislation lacks bipartisan sponsors (Reuters, 5/31).
House Panel Approves Three Other Health Care-Related Bills
The House Ways and Means Committee also approved three other health care-related bills on Thursday, CQ Today reports. The first bill (HR 1004), which was approved by a 23-6 vote, would allow individuals with pre-tax flexible spending arrangements, or FSAs, to recoup up to $500 of unused funds. A second bill (HR 5842), which was cleared in a 24-9 vote, would eliminate restrictions under the overhaul on consumers' ability to use tax-preferred accounts to pay for the cost of over-the-counter medications.
The committee also voted 21-7 to approve a bill (HR 5858) that would allow low-income workers to receive an income-limited tax credit for health savings account contributions and allow individuals and couples to redirect their "catch-up" contributions to one spouse's HSA. The bill also would allow individuals between the ages of 55 and 65 to pay for insurance enrollment fees with HSA funds, and veterans who are receiving treatment for service-related disabilities from the Department of Veterans Affairs would be able to make contributions to an HSA (Khatami/Phenicie, CQ Today, 5/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.