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Key Races for Medtech: Minnesota Congressional Race

Minnesota Congressional Race Candidate Erik Paulsen (incumbent) Brian Barnes

Maria Fontanazza

October 10, 2012

2 Min Read
Key Races for Medtech: Minnesota Congressional Race

Minnesota Congressional Race


Erik Paulsen (incumbent)

Brian Barnes




Current Title

U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s third Congressional district

Manages global sales and marketing department for a Minnesota-based company





Bakersfield, CA


Words on Medtech

When that tax was first proposed, I said ‘this is a really bad idea; this is an anchor that’s going to drag the industry down and in an already competitive environment.’”

—Erik Paulsen, MDMA Annual Meeting, June 2012

"Repealing the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices is a very good thing for Minnesota businesses. According to Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Thomas Barthold, Congressman Paulsen's method of paying for this would prevent 350,000 people from having health insurance. We can't rob Peter to pay Paul. We need to find a common sense, bipartisan way of paying for this tax repeal. Congressman Paulsen shouldn't be making the rounds of med device manufacturers with his hand out for donations knowing full well his funding mechanism will never pass both chambers of the house and be signed by the president."

—Brian Barnes, email statement to MD+DI 

Key Issues
in this Race

In January 2011, Erik Paulsen introduced the H.R. 436: Protect Medical Innovation Act and thus gets high marks from the medical device industry for his work as a leading proponent against the medical device excise tax. He received a standing ovation at MDMA’s annual meeting in June after he announced that the U.S. House of Representatives pass this bill, 270-146.


While opponent Brian Barnes has agreed that the device tax is bad for business, especially for companies in Minnesota, he disagrees with Paulsen’s approach in repealing it. In a debate with Paulsen, he said that the incumbent should have taken a bipartisan approach in to fund the bill to repeal the tax. However, Paulsen argued that the bill had bipartisan support, with every member of the Minnesota delegation voting for it (37 members for the Democratic caucus and House voting for it).


Although there is overwhelming support within the device industry to repeal the excise tax, a repeal would cause a big gap in funding to pay for healthcare reform. As for filling this hole, Paulsen proposes ensuring that anyone who is going to get a federal healthcare subsidy (determined by tax data) out of the new healthcare law and isn’t entitled to it would have to pay it back. Barnes has suggested paying for the gap by repealing some of the subsidies given to Big Oil.

View Other Key Races in Medtech

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