Medical-Device Makers Push to Cut New Fees in Health Bill

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WASHINGTON — Medical-device makers, joining an 11th-hour scramble to influence the shape of health-care legislation in the Senate Finance Committee, have petitioned panel chairman Max Baucus to shave billions of dollars in fees that the industry would face under the measure.

The Advanced Medical Technology Association, or AdvaMed, the trade group for the larger device manufacturers, wants the Montana Democrat to reduce $40 billion in fees over the next decade to $15 billion, according to people close to the negotiations. But industry was told that offer is too low. As of Sunday, the final draft included the higher number.

Wanda Moebius, a spokesman for AdvaMed, declined to comment on the $15 billion counteroffer, calling it “rumors and speculation.”

“AdvaMed continues to work with members of Congress to educate them of the onerous nature of this [annual] $4 billion tax — nearly half of the total of the industry’s research and development investment in 2007,” Ms. Moebius said.

With the Senate Finance Committee expected to vote on its health bill as early as Tuesday, lawmakers, industry executives and others have been seeking to make final changes. A main challenge in passing a health bill has been finding a way to pay for the overhaul. That is the aim of the proposed fees on medical devices, along with other fees and taxes that would be imposed on the drug industry, hospitals and the insurance industry.

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