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U.S. Rep. Walorski seeks details on impact of medical device tax to vets

U.S. Rep. Walorski, no fan of a new tax on medical devices, now worries about the impact to military veterans.

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 2, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, no fan of a new tax on medical devices, now worries about the impact to military veterans.

She sent a letter this week to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki expressing her concerns and asking for more precise information on how the VA plans to deal with the rise in costs brought on by the 2.3 percent tax. The tax, included in the Affordable Care Act, the controversial overhaul of the U.S. health care system, went into effect Jan. 1.

“Wounded warriors in Indiana and across the country are undoubtedly concerned with how the medical device tax will affect their care and access to critical medical devices,” said the letter, dated Wednesday, May 1, and signed by Walorski, a Republican from the Elkhart area, and seven other U.S. House members from Indiana. “As their representatives, we are greatly concerned and have questions that need to be addressed.”

The VA confirmed in a report that the department will likely see a cost increase in prosthetics and other medical devices because of the tax, said a press release Wednesday from Walorski’s office. In their letter, the Indiana lawmakers ask how the VA plans to absorb the anticipated increase in costs brought on by the 2.3 percent tax and how the department plans to to assure accessibility to medical devices.

“What specific steps will you take to ensure no veteran will go without or have to sacrifice quality as a result of increased medical device costs?” says the letter.

Walorski, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has criticized the 2.3 percent tax and called for its repeal, in part because of the adverse impact she says it will have on the orthopedic industry, strong in northern Indiana. The U.S. House has approved a bill to repeal the tax while the U.S. Senate passed a non-binding resolution expressing support for repeal.

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