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Friday, Mar 24, 2023

House Votes Yet Again to Repeal Medical Device Tax

One of the medical device industry’s favorite topics—repealing a federal tax on its companies’ revenues—has resurfaced yet again in Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 226 to 191 this month to pass the Jobs for America Act, a bill that includes the repeal of the medical device tax.

The 2.3% tax on device makers’ revenue took effect at the start of 2013. Supporters bill it as a way to raise about $30 billion to pay for healthcare reform. It typically applies to products not sold directly to consumers, such as replacement heart valves, pacemakers and artificial hips. Devices such as contact lenses, eyeglasses and hearing aids are exempt.

Republicans, who make up the majority of the House, have put forth several attempts to repeal the tax within various votes.

The Democratic Party, which holds the U.S. Senate’s majority, is divided on the matter. Democratic senators who represent states such as Minnesota, Massachusetts, Indiana and Pennsylvania have voted in favor of nonbinding votes to rescind it, an exception to their overall support of healthcare reform.

A repeal bill has been introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that’s not co-sponsored by California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

It’s not known whether the Senate will take up the bill before midterm elections.

There have been other attempts in the House to repeal the tax, including the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2013, which was sponsored by Reps. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Ron Kind, D-Wis. That bill never made it out of committee.

It had more than 260 co-sponsors, including retiring Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine; Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach; and Edward Royce, R-Fullerton. Republican Reps. Darrell Issa and Ken Calvert, whose districts cover small portions of South Orange County, also co-sponsored that bill.

Orange County is a major player in the medical device industry, with many of its companies in Campbell’s district.

Industry trade groups have relentlessly lobbied for a repeal of the tax, arguing that it restricts innovation.

Healthcare Delivery at Octane Forum

Several of Orange County’s hospital chief executives and administrators will talk healthcare delivery at a medical device and investor forum next month in Irvine.

Octane, an Aliso Viejo-based group, puts on the forum, which will be the ninth of its kind. It’s scheduled for Oct. 21 and 22 at the Hotel Irvine.

Panelists include Terry Belmont, chief executive of Orange teaching hospital UC Irvine Medical Center; Kenneth McFarland, president and chief executive of Mission Hospital; Nancy Taylor, vice president, Kaiser Permanente; James Mazzo, operating partner of Versant Ventures; and Kevin Wijayawickrama, a principal at Deloitte, which is sponsoring the forum.

“In a rare opportunity to hear directly from the people responsible for balancing the healthcare delivery accounts, this panel will discuss the economic forces associated with running a healthcare delivery institution and how it impacts which technologies are adopted or which are left to atrophy,” Octane said in an e-mail announcing the panel.

Startup Partners on Cancer Testing

Irvine-based OvaGene Oncology Inc. is working with Hitachi Chemical Research Center Inc. to develop diagnostic tests for gynecologic cancers.

OvaGene said in a news release that the duo will work to develop tests that analyze tumor messenger RNA acids within exosomes, which are cell components, and in microvessels in blood and vaginal fluids. It said the biomarkers that will be discovered are intended to detect earlier-stage gynecologic cancers and to rapidly identify when a treatment isn’t working so that alternative treatments can be selected.

“Less invasive sample collection can potentially increase the number of patients who will be tested, therefore increasing the number of cancer patients identified at an earlier stage of disease,” said Dr. William Ricketts, OvaGene’s chief scientific officer.

Hitachi Chemical, which is also in Irvine, is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Hitachi Chemical Co.

Bits & Pieces

Aliso Viejo-based Focal Therapeutics Inc. said a study showed its BioZorb breast cancer surgical marker contributed to better outcomes and more precise radiation treatment of patients. The information was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2014 breast cancer symposium in San Francisco just over two weeks ago. … Western Medical Center-Santa Ana said it received a grant from the Orange County Health Care Agency’s hospital preparedness program to buy several outdoor area lights to enhance the facility, and to buy equipment for emergency preparedness.

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