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Obama threatens veto on medical device tax repeal

Obama threatens veto on medical device tax repeal

President Barack Obama will veto legislation that would repeal a health care reform law provision that imposes a 2.3% federal excise tax on manufacturers of medical devices if Congress approves the measure, the White House warned.

The repeal legislation “would increase the deficit to finance a permanent and costly tax break for industry without improving the health system or helping middle-class Americans,” the White House said Monday in a statement.

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 added.

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

The repeal bill, H.R. 160, introduced by Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., was approved earlier by the House Ways and Means Committee on a 25-14 vote.

“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,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement before the panel's vote.

The bill, which has 281 co-sponsors, is expected to be considered by the full House this week.

The Senate has not yet considered the measure.

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