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House set to repeal Obamacare tax on medical devices

By Tom Howell Jr.

The GOP-led House is set to repeal Obamacare’s medical device tax this week, forcing Democrats either to stand by President Obama’s signature law at all costs or side with industry groups who say the tax on pacemakers, artificial joints and other products is a job killer that stifles innovation.

The repeal could be the one significant tweak to the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that makes it through Congress this year, as Republicans team up with Democrats who’ve said the 2.3-percent excise is particularly damaging back home, despite their support for the 2010 law overall.

Repeal-seekers say the device industry has helped real patients and cut costs by making health care more efficient, so there is no reason to hamstring their progress.

Thirty-two Senate Democrats backed repeal in a 2013 budget vote, and even noted liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, has called for the tax’s demise.

The tax, which took effect in January 2013, is “costing jobs, it’s sending businesses overseas,” Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said Monday. “We think it’s hurting seniors and we think it ought to be repealed.”

The GOP-dominated House will vote Thursday, placing pressure on Republican counterparts in the Senate to schedule a vote after it finishes its debate on defense bills.

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