House panel sends Paulsen medical device bill to the floor

WASHINGTON — A U.S. House panel signed off on a bill Thursday to eliminate an Affordable Care Act tax increase on medical device companies introduced by Minnesota Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen.

The vote sends the bill to the House floor, where it’s expected to see action next week.

The vote was 23-11, and largely party-line, with only two Democrats siding with the Republican majority. Democrats said they opposed the bill because, in its current form, it would add $29 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. If Republicans choose to introduce a corresponding budget off-set, that will happen during floor deliberations next week.

The bill is Paulsen’s top legislative priority. He introduced it last January and this is the first time the House has voted on it.

Medical technology is a large Minnesota industry, and Republicans have warned that the health care reform’s 2.3 percent tax hike on companies’ revenue — not profits — will lead to fewer jobs and less innovation when it takes effect in January.

Since the House is controlled by Republicans, the bill is expected to pass there next week. No Democrats have signed on to the Senate version of the same bill, but both Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have indicated they’re be open to proposals to reduce or eliminate the tax.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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