Trump Would Repeal Device Tax if He Wins: Former HHS Secretary

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By Michael D. Williamson

Oct. 19 — A Donald Trump administration would repeal the medical 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 medical 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 on 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industry complain that the tax is confusing, negatively affects medical technology companies and needs to be fully repealed.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 medical device industry during the Advanced Medical Technology Association’s 2016 conference in Minneapolis. Thompson, who stressed he wants Trump, the Republican presidential 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.

Likely Scenarios

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 suspending the tax into 2018 and beyond, Thompson said.

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, he said.

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 Bloomberg BNA Oct. 19. Rye is senior government analyst for health care at Bloomberg Intelligence in Washington.

Other Issues

Shoring up the troubled state-based ACA insurance marketplaces will be a central focus of a Clinton administration, Rye said. Many state-based exchanges are raising premiums, which is making health insurance more expensive for individuals to purchase.

Making marketplace coverage more affordable would eventually trickle down to device companies, which would likely see higher sales as a result of increased coverage levels, Rye told Bloomberg BNA.

Clinton will work on expanding coverage if she wins, Chopra said. Specifically, she would work with the states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the ACA and expand community health-care centers to ease access, he added.

A Trump victory would mean a quick end to the ACA after his inauguration, Thompson told the conference. It would be replaced with legislation that he said is more “patient centered” and has more price controls.

Rye told Bloomberg BNA the Trump campaign has provided few details on his health-care priorities. However, it’s possible that Trump would be comfortable with approving some legislation that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) outlined in a June health-care policy document, Rye said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael D. Williamson in Washington at mwilliamson@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brian Broderick at bbroderick@bna.com

For More Information

Details about AdvaMed’s conference are at http://advamed2016.com/.Speaker Ryan’s plan is at http://src.bna.com/juC.

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.