RECENT VOTES

Medical Device Tax

One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (health care reform) that I did not support was a tax on medical devices. However, on balance, that provision alone was not enough to convince me to vote against health care reform. Since then I have co-sponsored bills to repeal the medical device tax. This week the House considered H.R. 436: Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2012, a bill to do just that. I wish that I could have voted yes. However, I disagreed with the way that House Republicans are paying for the repeal.

Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans will be able to purchase health insurance through an Exchange and use tax credits that will help them afford the coverage. Those tax credits are based on previous year’s income. If someone’s circumstances change at any point during the year and they no longer qualify for the tax credits – for example if a previously unemployed person gets a job and with it employer sponsored health insurance, they are required to pay back a portion of the tax credit they received during that year. H.R. 436 requires that individual to pay back everything. The reason that repayment was limited in the first place was because it would encourage maximum participation in the Exchange. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that requiring complete repayment will result in the number of uninsured persons rising by 350,000. In contrast, a bill I co-sponsored to repeal the medical device tax pays for it by eliminating subsidies to oil and gas companies. That approach would also help to reduce the deficit by $3 billion.

I support the repeal of the medical device tax. I do not support the way H.R. 436 accomplishes that. It appears likely to undermine heath reform by diminishing the number of Americans with health care coverage. I voted NO. H.R. 436 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

233

0

0

8

DEMOCRAT

37

146

0

7

TOTAL

270

146

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

2

8

0

0