GOP: Health bill would tax H1N1 vaccine makers

Senate Republicans claimed Saturday evening that the Democrats' healthcare reform legislation would tax H1N1 manufacturers amid a shortage of a vaccine.

A provision in the bill would draw $2.3 billion annually from drug manufacturers that produce the swine flu vaccine. The tax would be assessed based on the companies' sales of the vaccine through government programs. The section would also tax companies that produce conventional antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) first pointed out the provision at a press conference Saturday afternoon.

The Obama administration has recently come under fire for its distribution of the vaccine, which critics say has happened too slowly. Multiple congressional committees have held hearings on the government's handling of the vaccine.

“It defies understanding that Democrats would levy huge taxes on manufacturers of H1N1 drugs when we’re approaching a possible pandemic," said a senior Republican aide.

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