H.R. 436 -- the medical device bill that is now serving as a locomotive for the Health Care Cost Reducation Act package -- is still without a committee of jurisdiction in the Senate.
But Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the highest ranking Republican at the Senate Finance Committee, has put out a statement that he already has introduced a Senate version of the medical device bill -- S. 17,
The Finance Committee has had jurisdiction over that bill since Jan. 25, 2011.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) would impose a 2.3% excise tax on medical device makers starting in January 2013. S. 17 would repeal the tax immediately, Hatch says in a statement.
The authors of new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirm that implantable medical devices save lives, Hatch says.
"When you have data like this that shows medical devices are improving Americans’ lives for the better, it’s baffling why the White House chose to tax the medical device industry to fund the president’s health law,” Hatch says.
If the device tax stays in effect, U.S. device makers would pay $29 billion in additional taxes over 10 years, Hatch says.
H.R. 436, a Republican-backed bill that passed in the House last week with votes from 37 Democrats, now includes a number of provisions related to flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (FSAs). One would eliminate the current requirement that holders of FSAs forfeit any unused account balance at the end of the plan year.
In addition to eliminating the FSA "use it or lose it" rule, the bill would restore FSA and HSA holders' ability to use account assets to pay for over-the-counter drugs without getting a prescription from the doctor.
The White House has said that President Obama likely would veto H.R. 436 if it reaches his desk.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he has no plans to let the measure come up for a vote in the Senate.