This vote was on killing an amendment by Pat Roberts, R-Kan., that would have exempted certain kinds of pediatric medical devices from a provision in the 2010 health care law that created a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. Roberts’ amendment would have paid for this tax exemption by making it harder to qualify for the health care law’s affordability tax exemption. The health care law stipulates that people must have health insurance. Those who do not will be subject to a tax. However, there is an exemption for those with very low income; this is the “affordability tax exemption.” Roberts’ amendment would raise the income threshold necessary to qualify, making it available to fewer people.
The amendment was offered to a bill that would extend several expired tax provisions, unemployment insurance benefits, Medicaid assistance to states, Medicaid doctor payment increases and other items.
“When innovative and lifesaving technologies are taxed, when the cost of many tests increases because the devices used in the tests are taxed, when new devices are not developed, and when fewer manufacturers are able to survive in the anticompetitive environment this tax will create, the consumers of health care will suffer for it,” Roberts said. “I urge my colleagues to support this amendment to exempt pediatric medical devices from the excise tax to ensure that the youngest patients who need the lifesaving treatment these devices can offer do not have to pay more for that treatment.”
Max Baucus, D-Mont., moved to kill the amendment. Baucus said Republicans appear to be “unable to move on” from their failed attempt to kill the health care overhaul, and so now are trying to change pieces of it after the fact.
“So today, unfortunately, we have again an amendment to carve out an exception to the medical device fee that helps pay for health care reform. This amendment would pay for the loss of revenue by leaving more Americans without health insurance. We are in a situation where if we cut out this medical device provision, then we have to make it up in some way, so this amendment would pay for the lost revenue by leaving more Americans without health insurance,” Baucus said. “Some on the other side of the aisle appear unwilling to move on. So for the same reasons we rejected this amendment in March, we should reject it again today.”
By a vote of 55-44, the amendment was killed. Though more voted yes than no, this particular type of vote requires 60 in order to be considered approved. All but three Democrats present voted to kill the amendment. Every Republican present voted against killing the amendment. The end result is that the amendment was killed, and the bill went forward without language that would have exempted pediatric medical devices from taxation.