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Public Statements

Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. NEAL. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to talk about the simplicity of the medical device excise tax and to remind people, as the majority leader said, that this is really about repealing the Affordable Care Act. This is not a debate about just the medical device excise tax. This is an effort to repeal the entire action.

This is a tremendous industry. I've worked with them for years. There are 400 medical device companies that employ 24,000 people and about 82,000 people indirectly. It is critical to the Massachusetts economy.

We are debating the same issue we debated 2 years ago when I worked closely with colleagues. By the way, the way Congress once functioned was to work with labor and the respective industries and with Members on both sides of the aisle in order to have an outcome that everybody, if they didn't love it, could at least come to say that they liked.

I negotiated decreasing that tax from 5 to 2.3 percent, and I stood up to those who thought it ought to be 5 percent. The big request from the industry was that they wanted the devices that were imported to be subject to the same tax. They were absolutely correct. We reached a compromise with the industry that bought into this suggestion because they knew that they would benefit from the expansion of insured individuals under the Affordable Care Act. I should note something that is very important today, which is that the industry receives Medicare payments indirectly via payments from hospitals.

Now I worry about the impact of the tax on the medical device industry. If we had a good pay-for today and if everybody agreed that we were going to try to hold onto the basis of the Affordable Care Act, count me in. One medical device company recently said to me, If we're going to get hit with a new tax, it's going to cost our company $100 million a year. To withstand that kind of tax increase, we're going to have to look at cutting jobs.

I understand that, and I'm concerned about the push for companies that are going to cut back on research and development; but I cannot support this piece of legislation due to the offset which would repeal the true-up protections for lower- and middle-income families that use the Affordable Care Act's premium tax credits. According to Joint Tax, 350,000 fewer individuals will become insured if those protections are repealed, and I can't support that.

The reality is that this vote is simply another political stunt to chip away at the health care reform act. I am open to working with Chairman Camp. If we can find a path forward, as I've indicated, count me in. This is not the path to pursue. This is not the way to do it. A reminder: This really is not the way that this Congress functioned when I came to it, particularly on the Ways and Means Committee, when you work with industry and labor to accomplish extraordinary things.

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