Earlier today, the House of Representatives moved to help save $30 million dollars for medical device companies while defunding programs designed to expand health coverage for ordinary Americans. The House took action on legislation to “repeal a 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales receipts in excess of $5 million for manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices, including defibrillators, pacemakers and prosthetic limbs.” The tax, originally part of the Affordable Care Act, was set up to pay for an expansion in health programs to cover the uninsured in America, which studies have linked to over 45,000 deaths a year.
The repeal comes as medical device makers, a $140 billion industry, have lobbied aggressively and showered lawmakers with contributions. A report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that the tax would likely spur innovation by promoting cost-effective ways of delivering care, while also ensuring vital health programs are properly funded. Nevertheless, the House passed the bill 242-173.
The medical device lobby had several advantages in this fight. For one thing, they had a man in the inside. In late 2010, as Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) prepared to take the gavel as Speaker, he hired a lobbyist named Brett Loper as his new policy chief. Loper left his job at the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a lobby group for medical device-makers, to join Boehner.
Republic Report reviewed ethics forms disclosed filed with the House clerk’s office, and noticed that Loper actually received a $100,147 bonus in 2011 for leaving his medical device lobbying group and becoming a public servant. View the disclosure below:
While much attention has been paid to the number of lawmakers and staff who sell out and become lobbyists, there’s equally problematic dynamic when lobbyists burrow into government, provide key giveaways to industry or special interests, then return to K Street with even higher salaries.
Update: A story from Politico in 2010 notes that Loper, as a medical device lobbyist, was “deeply involved” in fighting the medical device tax that was ultimately repealed today.
Filed under: Lobbying