Prompted by an outcry from medical-device makers, another group of legislators has penned a letter asking key Senate leaders to reconsider a proposed $4 billion annual tax on the device industry, which would be used to help fund healthcare reform.
The letter—sent to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)—was signed by a group of 14 Democratic senators, including John Kerry of Massachusetts, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Using language that echoed a similar letter sent late last month by a bipartisan group of representatives from California, the senators said they “are extremely concerned that this tax could threaten jobs in our states, reduce domestic investment in research and development and ultimately diminish access to life-saving medical devices for patients.”
The proposed devicemaker tax is one of several cost-sharing mechanisms included in the Senate Finance Committee's America's Healthy Future Act of 2009. The tax calls for collecting a total of $40 billion over 10 years from devicemakers. A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Wednesday found that the proposed legislation would shave $81 billion off the federal deficit by 2019. The Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill on Oct. 13.