Congress works to reconcile House and Senate healthcare reform proposals
The House of Representatives and Senate are working to enact comprehensive health reform legislation using legislative procedures that will enable the Senate to pass a final reform measure with a simple majority vote. Under that scenario, it is likely that the healthcare reform bill will more closely resemble legislation passed by the Senate in December 2009 than an earlier House bill.
Negotiations continue to determine which elements of the House bill will be adopted including the specifics of a proposed tax on medical devices. HIA and a coalition of hearing health groups continue to work in support of the Senate’s FDA Class I Device exclusion provision which would exempt hearing aids from the device tax. The House bill exempts only items sold at “retail” from what would now reportedly be a 2.9% tax on medical devices, and that would effectively result in a tax on all hearing aids sold. Although nothing is certain, sources indicate that the device tax will more closely resemble the House proposal; however, HIA also believes that some elements of the Senate tax provision will also be adopted including the Class I device exclusion.
As previously noted, Reps Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Dina Titus (D-NV) have contacted the Speaker directly in support of the Class I exemption, as have several senior hearing health champions from the Ways and Means Committee. Every Representative who attended a local HLAA/AG Bell event in their district that was sponsored by HIA and supported by IHS has been supportive of efforts to exempt hearing aids from the tax.
HIA will continue to work with our supporters in the House and Senate as negotiations continue, and we will keep you posted. Contact Andy Bopp, email@example.com with any questions.