- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

House Republicans are vowing to repeal a tax on makers of medical devices by supporting a bill from a GOP lawmaker, and they expect at least a few Democrats to join them in their latest effort to poke holes in President Obama’s health care law.

Republicans complain the tax will destroy jobs for makers of devices such as x-ray machines and oxygen tanks. Some Democrats from states where the devices are made agree.

If lawmakers pass the bill sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen, Minnesota Republican, it will mark the 30th time the House has voted to do away with parts or all of the health care law.

“You see how it’s kind of crept into the national dialogue all over the country with pockets of these medical device manufacturers,” Paulsen spokesman Philip Minardi said. “As people learn more and more about the tax, it just makes more and more sense to repeal it.”

The legislation would repeal a 2.3 percent tax scheduled to take effect in January on the sales of manufacturers that produce x-rays machines, medical monitors, life-support equipment and other devices. The companies are fighting the tax tooth and nail, saying it could force them to cut as many 43,000 jobs and slash research and development budgets.

Rep. Dan Boren, Oklahoma Democrat, signed onto the Paulsen legislation Wednesday, bringing to 11 the number of Democrats supporting it in the House in addition to 228 Republicans.

At least one Democrat supports a version offered by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, whose state labor force has the highest percentage of workers in the medical device industry, has long opposed the tax.

“I understand the impact the fee would have on small and large medical-device companies in Minnesota, which create thousands of jobs in our state and improve the lives of patients all over the world,” Mrs. Klobuchar said Wednesday. “That is why I worked to cut the tax in half and delay its implementation, and I will continue to support efforts to reduce or eliminate this fee.”

And Democrats running in other states with high concentrations of medical-device manufacturers also oppose it. Elizabeth Warren, locked into a tight Massachusetts race with Sen. Scott P. Brown, has called for a repeal, while Rep. Joe Donnelly, running for Senate in Indiana, has signed onto the Paulsen bill.

Utah, Delaware, Massachusetts, Indiana and New Hampshire have the biggest medical-device segment after Minnesota, according to the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

Republican staffers said House leaders plan to suggest ways to offset the lost revenue, but they won’t be ready Thursday when the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to approve the bill and send it along to the House floor.

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