HOW WOULD THE ELECTION OUTCOME AFFECT THE MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY?

 

The outcome of the U.S. presidential election could mean changes to the medical device tax, political insiders told attendees of a medical technology conference.

A Donald Trump administration would repeal the device tax, former Republican HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said Oct. 19.

Aneesh Chopra, the former U.S. chief technology officer for President Barack Obama, said Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton officially has no comment on repealing the device tax. However, Clinton has a long history of negotiating with Congress to move her priorities forward, and everything will be considered while she and her transition team determine how to pass health-care legislation in 2017 and beyond, Chopra said.

The 2.3 percent device tax, which has caused great consternation for the device industry since it was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, was suspended for 2016 and 2017 and is set to go back into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Many in the device industry complain that the tax is confusing, negatively affects medical technology companies and needs to be fully repealed.

Chopra and Thompson spoke on what the outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election will mean for the device industry during the Advanced Medical Technology Association’s 2016 conference in Minneapolis. Thompson, who stressed he wants Trump, the Republican nominee, to win, said he has no formal relationship with the Trump campaign. Chopra said he was at the conference specifically representing the Clinton campaign. Bloomberg BNA contacted the Trump campaign via e-mail Oct. 19 to seek his position on the device tax but didn’t receive a response.

A Clinton victory with Democrats in control of the Senate and Republicans controlling the House is a “more than likely” outcome, Thompson said. Under this scenario, Congress and a Clinton administration would likely agree to suspend the tax into 2018 and beyond. However, should Trump win, Republicans will retain full control of Congress, Thompson told the conference. A full repeal of the device tax is more likely under this scenario.

Regardless of who wins the presidency and controls the House and Senate, the medical technology industry is likely to step up pressure on the next administration and lawmakers to repeal the device tax in 2017, health-care financial analyst Brian Rye told me Oct. 19. Rye is senior government analyst for health care at Bloomberg Intelligence in Washington.

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