GOSHEN — U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski senses support to repeal a controversial medical device tax levied on makers of orthopedic devices.
At a visit Wednesday to IU Health Goshen Hospital here, she said she’s been contacted by hospital executives who report that increased costs on such things due to the new tax are being passed down the chain. The GOP lawmaker was here for an open house formally unveiling the Goshen hospital’s new Heart and Vascular Center.
“They’re passing on the costs now,” Walorski said after her formal remarks. “So it’s costing hospitals more. It’s costing the folks in this room more if they have any sort of a transplant of a knee, an elbow. That cost is being passed on at every single point.”
A proposal is being crafted in the U.S. House to repeal the tax, included in the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care reform initiative. “That is a niche market that we’re proud of in the state of Indiana — high-paying, high-tech jobs — and I think we’ll have bipartisan support in rolling that medical device tax back,” Walorski said.
The medical device tax has prompted particular concern in Kosciusko County, home to a concentration of orthopedic manufacturers. But Walorski noted that the impact isn’t solely there — companies in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties supply the industry, so they’re potentially impacted, too.
Lawmakers in northern Indiana have regularly talked about pursuing repeal of the tax, thus far to no avail. The tax, totaling 2.3 percent on medical devices meant for human use, went into effect on Jan. 1, according to HealthCareFinanceNews.com.
Broader moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act, meanwhile, have probably been all but extinguished. Many GOP lawmakers, including Walorski, campaigned last year on the issue, but in light of Obama’s re-election and the Democratic majority in Senate, prospects of repeal are dim.
“Probably not going to happen,” said Walorski.
Walorski was mum on talk in Washington of immigration reform. A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators on Monday unveiled a proposal to reform the nation’s immigration laws that included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Walorski said she hasn’t yet delved into the proposal and would probably take a look when she returns to Washington D.C. next Monday. She’s been in the 2nd District since last Friday.
She looks forward to an approach “that will be fair and right,” she said. ”So I’m anxious, I’m glad that we’re going to have the discussion. I will definitely be at the table. My sleeves will be rolled.”
IU Health Goshen Chief Executive Officer Randy Christophel, Dr. Mark Smucker, the hospital director of cardiology, and several others spoke at Wednesday’s open house. The new Heart and Vascular Center, which actually opened last November, coordinates efforts of cardiologists, radiologists and surgeons in providing heart care.