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House Votes to Kill Health Care Act’s Medical Device Tax

Lawmakers face presidential veto

Defying a White House veto threat, the House of Representatives has voted to abolish a tax on medical device makers as a group of Democrats uncharacteristically joined Republicans in moving to kill part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to the Associated Press.

The 280-to-140 House vote was exactly the two-thirds margin that supporters would need to override a presidential veto. The measure will next come up in the Senate, which voted overwhelmingly to repeal the levy in 2013.

The Republican-led House has voted more than 50 times since 2011 to repeal all or part of the PPACA, usually along party lines. In the new vote, Republicans working to erase the 2.3% tax were joined by 46 Democrats from states where medical devices are made.

The tax on medical devices took effect 2 years ago and was designed to help pay for the PPACA’s health care overhaul. It is imposed on equipment such as artificial hearts and X-ray machines, but not on items used by individuals, such as eyeglasses, wheelchairs, and blood glucose monitors.

In its letter threatening a veto, the White House said repeal would “provide a large tax break to profitable corporations” and cut money for “financial assistance that is working to improve coverage and affordability” of health care.

Repeal supporters, on the other hand, say the tax drives up companies’ expenses, costs jobs, and stifles research. They named the bill the “Protect Medical Innovation Act.”

AdvaMed, the main lobbying organization representing the medical device industry, said the tax eliminated 4,500 jobs last year and will kill a projected 20,500 more jobs over the next 5 years. The Congressional Research Service found just the opposite, however. In an economic analysis, the nonpartisan group said the levy’s effect on companies “will likely be minimal because the tax is expected to be passed on in price, and the decrease in demand would be negligible.”

Source: Medical Xpress; June 18, 2015.

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