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BLOG: Banks' Washington Update - June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017
Blog Post

OP-ED: Medical Device Tax Repeal Important Part of Health Care Reform

By Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03)

Just as in every part of our country, northeast Indiana has felt the effects of Obamacare over the past seven years.

While some Americans have benefited under the health care law, far more have faced skyrocketing premiums, decreased coverage or loss of a doctor.

But in our region, Obamacare’s negative impact has extended even further. The law’s inclusion of a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices has affected our regional economy and penalized local companies. Its potential return could jeopardize thousands of Hoosier jobs, which is why this tax must be repealed in full.

Northeast Indiana is home to dozens of medical device manufacturers, the majority of which are based in Warsaw. In fact, Warsaw is often referred to as the “Orthopedic Capital of the World.” Estimates indicate that medical device companies in our region control 34 percent of the worldwide orthopedic market.

Medical device manufacturing also is important to our state as a whole. Indiana ranks second in the nation in exports of life sciences products, and a job with a Hoosier device manufacturer pays 56 percent more than the average wage in Indiana.

In Indiana and across the country, medical device companies invest hundreds of billions into the American economy every year, employ more than 400,000 Americans and create life-saving technologies that benefit people all over the world.

In 2013, Obamacare’s 2.3 percent tax on medical devices went into effect, forcing device companies to pay one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. According to Commerce Department data, more than 28,000 jobs in medical device and related industries were lost across the country while the device tax was in effect. Over a two-year period, device manufacturers were forced to scale back investments in life-saving medical technologies by $814 million.

Fortunately, the medical tax was temporarily suspended at the beginning of 2016, allowing many manufacturers to resume a portion of research and development and investment activities previously lost due to the tax. The Advanced Medical Technology Association, which represents hundreds of device manufacturers, has surveyed its members about the suspension of the device tax. As a result of the suspension, 73% of respondents have either increased or avoided reducing their total employment, 33% have invested in new research facilities and 83% have increased or not reduced research and development spending.

A lasting repeal of the medical device tax will make these benefits permanent. With the medical device tax set to go back into effect at the end of this year, Congress must take action this year to permanently repeal this tax. Failing to do so will result in stifled innovation, job losses and decreased patient access to technology that enhances the lives of patients around the globe.

In May, I voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. This bill is a significant step forward from the failures of Obamacare and has many important reforms that will benefit Hoosier families, including a permanent repeal of the medical device tax.

The Senate version of health care reform released Thursday also includes a full repeal of the medical device tax. It is vital that it be included in any legislation the Senate passes. The stakes are too high for our region, our state and the entire country.

This opinion editorial was originally published in the Journal Gazette on Sunday, June 25, 2017.

 

The passage of the NDAA is a pivotal step towards rebuilding the readiness of our armed forces.

NDAA Passage Out of Committee

Wednesday night, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 60 – 1 after fourteen hours of deliberation. The language I authored to encourage the transition from A10s to F16s at the 122nd Fighter Wing in northeast Indiana was included.

 

The passage of the NDAA is a pivotal step towards rebuilding the readiness of our armed forces. The bill would give our service members and their families a well-deserved raise, begin the process of rebuilding our Navy to the President’s goal of 355 ships and root out waste in the Department of Defense. 

 

The bill is scheduled to be considered on the House floor in July.

 

I supported President Trump's move to rescind the WOTUS rule, which would have potentially given the federal government jurisdiction over puddles and roadside ditches.

Indiana GOP Delegation Letter Supporting End of WOTUS 

This week, President Trump and his Administration made a decision to withdraw from the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. I applaud the Administration’s move to rescind this burdensome regulation that would create heavy compliance costs for Hoosier farmers and landowners. WOTUS is a major overstep by the federal government, and I am pleased to see that the Administration is acting to withdraw this rule. 

 

I led a letter signed by House Republican members of the Indiana delegation to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Chief Todd Semonite supporting President Donald Trump’s proposal to rescind the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

 

The original letter can be found here.

I spoke with veterans at the 2017 Memorial Day event in Bluffton.

Introduced Bipartisan Veterans ACCESS Act alongside Congressman Moulton 

This week, Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) and I introduced the Veterans ACCESS Act. This bipartisan bill would ensure that health care providers who have been fired or suspended from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cannot participate in non-VA care in community programs, such as the Choice program. Currently, there is nothing explicitly in law or VA regulation that stops fired or suspended VA providers from participating in VA-administered community care programs.

 

The ACCESS Act will ensure that when a provider is suspended from VA care, he or she is also suspended from non-VA care. Additionally, the bill would give the VA Secretary the discretion under certain circumstances to deny, revoke, or suspend a provider’s eligibility if the Secretary determines that such action is necessary to immediately protect the health, safety, or welfare of veterans.

 

Our veterans deserve the very best care we can provide them. This bill would make an important change to ensure our veterans are protected from substandard care. I am glad to be working with Congressman Moulton on this important bipartisan issue.

 

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