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Rep. Paulsen says medical device tax a 'wrongheaded approach'

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Erik Paulsen
Rep. Erik Paulsen, seen here in a file photo, says that the medical device tax will actually increase health care costs.
MPR Photo/Chris Kelleher

Third District Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen held a hearing Monday to underscore bipartisan Minnesota opposition to a proposed tax on medical device manufacturers as part of federal health care reform.

The $4 billion-per-year tax is included in the bill that cleared the Senate Finance Committee last week. It would help pay for expanding health care coverage to those who are currently uninsured.

Paulsen's suburban Minneapolis district is home to a number of medical device manufacturers, and he said the hearing showed the tax increase would cost jobs and mean higher costs for patients.

"Literally, only in Washington would you propose to tax something and make it more expensive under the guise of lowering health care costs," Paulsen said. "We learned today we're actually going to be increasing health care costs through this proposal; very wrongheaded approach."

Defenders of the tax say medical device makers will sell more products when more people have insurance. Minnesota's two DFL senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken said they also oppose the tax.