The Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices has few friends among Republicans and some Democrats, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has benefited from his share of medical devices, counts himself among its opponents.
“I think that’s one of the dumbest ideas I’ve heard. I feel very strongly about it,” Cheney said at an event at the National Press Club Tuesday night. “I’m literally walking around proof of how great and how innovative our health care system has been, and I can’t imagine anything worse than …
“But I just think it’s an example of how ill-conceived parts of this program are,” Cheney continued.
In his long history with heart disease, Cheney had a stent implanted in his arteries as well as a pacemaker, both of which would be affected by the tax. He spoke at the press club to promote his book new book, “Heart: An American Medical Odyssey,” which he co-wrote with his doctor Jonathan Reiner.
Cheney cited the invention of the stent, a medical device that opens the arteries in the heart to prevent or counteract a blockage, which he said wouldn’t have been possible without the ingenuity of “two guys who had a good idea and no money.”
An investor, he said, “gave them enough to build it and get a patent. … [They] sold it to Johnson and Johnson and saved millions of lives.”
Cheney has had five heart attacks and has undergone several procedures to treat heart disease, including a full heart transplant in 2012.
Though he criticized the device tax, and worries that people might not be able to keep their health insurance, Cheney, for the most part avoided denouncing the entire health care law.
“There was a time in my life when I was about 23, shortly before we got married when I was sick, hospitalized and uninsured,” Cheney said. “I spent our honeymoon money on medical bills. Later on, I learned that I needed health insurance.”