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Public Statements

Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against H.R. 436, not because I believe that the current tax on the device industry is perfect, but because I object to the politicization of the issue and the use of a fundamentally-flawed offset.

As one of their first acts upon taking the majority, House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Since then, they have voted to dismantle the law piece by piece. Today, they are at it again, and instead of addressing industry concerns in a concise and targeted manner, the majority has crammed together a politically-motivated bill designed to stick it to the President. Don't just take my word for it. Compare the bill we have before us today with the 1099 repeal law. Both deal with problematic revenue raisers included in the health reform law, but the 1099 repeal bill took a targeted approach that represented practical policymaking at its best. This effort is purely political, and the result is a legislative goody bag.

Moreover, while the 1099 bill's offset, a modification of the health insurance subsidy recapture cap, was a difficult pill to swallow, H.R. 436's offset is a poison pill. H.R. 436 would fully lift the cap, leading an estimated 350,000 people to forgo health insurance, according to the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. These are working Americans earning between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Why would the Majority ask working and middle income people to bear this burden alone? It is unacceptable.

As the representative from a part of our country known for its research and innovation, I fully understand the importance of the device industry. Medical devices have the potential to save and enrich the lives of Americans, and the companies that produce them are helping our economy recover by investing in new technology and providing high-paying, high-skilled jobs. Those companies also tried to be good actors in the health insurance reform debate. Like other industries, device companies understand that the skyrocketing cost of health care represents one of the greatest threats to families, small business owners, state and federal budgets, and the overall economy. Attempting to reverse this trend is one of the reasons Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act, and AdvaMed, the trade association representing medical device manufacturers, participated in the effort to ensure that the legislation would be deficit-neutral.

The final law brought the original $40 billion levy on device manufacturers down to a $20 billion contribution through a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices. However, as the ten-year budget window has shifted, industry reports that they expect to paying closer to $29 billion. We need to monitor this carefully and find a fair solution that accounts for the additional business the device industry may acquire as a result of the Affordable Care Act, while underscoring the need to keep the industry vibrant and innovative. That is not the discussion we are having today, but I hope it is one House Republicans will be willing to have in the near future, and I stand ready to work with them to do just that.


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