House votes to repeal ObamaCare tax

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The House voted Thursday to repeal an ObamaCare tax on medical devices that is intended to generate billions of dollars for the law.

The final vote was 280-140, with 46 Democrats voting in favor.

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Supporters of the bill say the 2.3 percent tax, which affects about 7,000 manufacturers nationwide, is holding back innovation on important devices like X-ray machines and ventilators.

“Only in Washington would you impose a tax on life-saving medical technology and think you will actually reduce healthcare costs," said Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), the bill’s lead sponsor.

The House first voted to repeal the tax passed in 2012. While the bill does not include a plan to make up for the lost revenue from repealing the tax, supporters believe it stands a chance of clearing both chambers now that the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

The legislation marks one of the biggest successes in the GOP’s campaign against ObamaCare after more than 50 votes to repeal the entire law. 


Still, it faces an almost certain veto from President Obama because it does not replace the $25 billion in funding for ObamaCare over the next decade.

Dozens of Democrats have also supported repealing the tax in the last several years, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWasserman Schultz: 'Sometimes you just have to take one for the team' Chelsea Clinton's big moment Kaine as Clinton's VP pick sells out progressive wing of party MORE (Mass.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Senators launch broadband caucus MORE (Minn.). Both live in states where the device industry has a heavy presence, and have criticized the provision as a tax on manufacturing.

Paulsen has previously said he’s optimistic about his bill’s chances because “there’s new Senate leadership that is interested in bringing the bill forward.”

Many of the Democrats who opposed the measure Thursday said they fear that the legislation would be a slippery slope for other industries with their own grips about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"If people vote for this industry to essentially go back on its commitment to participate, other providers are going to ask for the same treatment. And so in that respect, what the Republicans are aiming to do is to unravel — to unravel — ACA," Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said.

Repealing the tax has been described as the “low-hanging fruit” of the healthcare law, along with abolishing Medicare’s cost-cutting panel, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Legislation repealing that board will come up for a vote in the House next week.

The medical device tax has been at the center of a yearslong, $200 million industry lobbying campaign that was rebuffed by Democratic leaders in the Senate when they were in the majority.

Those opposed to the repeal, including Sen. Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidMeet the rising Dem star positioned to help Clinton on gun control Reid: Congress should return 'immediately' to fight Zika Classified briefings to begin for Clinton, Trump MORE (D-Nev.), have argued that device companies remain extremely profitable despite the tax.

While lobbyists and Republican aides say the Obama administration appears open to repealing the tax, officials say they do not support the bill because of the hole it would blow in ObamaCare’s funding stream.

—Cristina Marcos contributed.