The House on Thursday easily backed repeal of a tax on the medical device industry. But President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, which would add more than $24 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. With not all House members voting Thursday, that chamber's 280-140 vote fell one vote shy of a veto-proof majority to repeal the tax, which helps pay for the expansion of health insurance under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Ever since Congress included a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices in President Obama's health care reform law in 2009, there has been a forceful and well-financed campaign to repeal the tax -- waged, naturally, by the medical device industry. It has donated generously to lawmakers and candidates, taken them on tours of their plants and spent tens of millions in lobbying. [...] The tax, which applies to devices like artificial joints, pacemakers, wheelchairs and gloves, is expected to raise about $29 billion over 10 years. It is one of several sources of new revenue in the health care law that will pay for the expansion of health coverage to 30 million uninsured people, many of them poor. The industry claims the tax will hurt demand for its products, but, in fact, sales of these devices, which are not purchased directly by consumers, are unlikely to be affected by price, especially by a small tax increase. As more people receive health coverage that pays for devices, the industry will more than make up the cost of the tax.