Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen pushed back against President Obama Friday in the ongoing dispute over the $29 billion medical device tax that was slapped on the industry – an important one in Minnesota – to help fund the Affordable Care Act.
Paulsen, the acting chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on human resources, has been trying to rally support in Senate to repeal or delay the tax, which goes into effect in 18 days.
Asked about the tax by WCCO’s Frank Vascellaro on Thursday night, Obama argued that medical device companies, insurers, and other health care providers will all benefit from the 30 million new customers that the Affordable Care Act brings.
“It’s going to be great for business, and they’re doing really well right now,” the president said. “This additional tax essentially comes back to them as new customers.”
Paulsen called the supposed “windfall’ to the industry a “convenient myth.”
“In reality, utilization of medical devices is heavily tipped towards America’s aging population,” Paulsen said. “Medicare beneficiaries, both elderly and disabled, are disproportionally large users of medical devices and already have coverage through that program. Similar state level reforms in Massachusetts have not resulted in more revenues for medical device innovators.”
The president argued that “nobody should go bankrupt when they get sick in this country” and that “providers of medical services should recognize they’re going to get a benefit from all of these uninsured folks suddenly having insurance, and that means they should be willing to do a little bit in order to make that happen.”
He also argued that this is not unique to the medical device industry. “Hospitals are doing a little bit more because they know now they’re not going to have uncompensated care in emergency rooms, everybody’s going to have some kind of insurance. Doctors, same kind of thing.”
Paulsen says the tax will be a job killer in the industry. He got a repeal bill through the House in June, and has been joined by Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken in seeking its repeal or postponement this month.
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