White House threatens veto of ObamaCare device tax repeal

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The White House on Monday threatened to veto a bill to repeal ObamaCare's unpopular medical device tax.

The bill is headed for a vote in the House later this week, and the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices has drawn criticism from some members of both parties who say it stifles innovation. 

But the White House on Monday called the bill “a large tax break to profitable corporations.”

It argues that healthcare industries gain from new customers under ObamaCare and therefore should pay some of the cost of the coverage expansion. 

“Its repeal 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. 

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At a Ways and Means Committee markup of the bill earlier this month, Democrats likewise berated Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanReid defends embattled VA secretary House panel advances transpo bill with trucking riders House GOP changes rules to thwart Dems MORE (R-Wis.) for not offsetting the cost of repealing the tax. 

Still, the bill has received 41 Democratic cosponsors in the House, with some members pointing to the effect on the industry in their districts. 

The House will also vote later this week on a bill to repeal ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is tasked with recommending cuts to Medicare spending if it rises above a certain threshold. 

The board has split Democrats, with seven voting in favor of repeal in Ways and Means this month. The bill has 20 Democratic cosponsors.

However, some Democrats have said the bill is somewhat pointless at the moment, since the board, which does not exist yet, only kicks in if spending rises to a certain level. The White House has threatened to veto its repeal as well.

House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said at a Rules Committee hearing Monday that the cost of IPAB repeal would be offset by making cuts to a prevention fund under ObamaCare, which he calls a “slush fund.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.), said Monday that he agrees with repeal of the board but objects to the offset. 

“I don’t disagree with my colleagues, maybe I’m not speaking for other Democrats on this in terms of IPAB,” Pallone said. “I don’t like IPAB because I don’t like any independent commissions.”

He said the board takes away decisions that Congress itself should be making. But he objected to taking $8.5 billion from the prevention fund to pay for it. He said the fund is “tremendously important,” and has financed programs like reducing tobacco use and promoting vaccinations.