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House OKs bill to repeal medical device tax

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The House of Representatives Thursday approved legislation that would repeal a health care reform law provision that imposes a 2.3% federal excise tax on manufacturers of medical devices.

Lawmakers approved the repeal bill, H.R. 160, by a 280-140 margin.

Revenue generated by the tax, which first went into effect two years ago, is used to help offset the cost of federal premium subsides provided to the lower-income uninsured who purchase coverage in public health care exchanges.

But critics say the proposal is illogical.

“There are the laws that make no sense at all. Today, we tax medical devices — things like heart valves and pacemakers — the very things that save lives. It’s an iron law of economics that when you tax something, you get less of it. So we’ve really got our wires crossed here,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said earlier in a statement.

The future of the legislation, though, is in doubt with the White House saying that President Obama will veto the measure if it wins congressional approval.

Repealing the tax “would take away a funding source for financial assistance that is working to improve coverage and affordability and would increase the federal deficit by $24.4 billion over 10 years,” the White House said in a statement earlier this week.

The Senate has not yet considered the measure.