Pence pleads for end to medical device tax

Republican Gov. Mike Pence wrote a letter Monday urging members of the U.S. Senate to vote to repeal the medical device tax that is helping to finance Obamacare.

But the Senate on Monday night voted to table an amendment that would repeal the tax, with all 54 Democrats voting to maintain the tax.

In his letter, Pence told lawmakers that companies affected by the tax employ 20,000 Hoosiers.

“The medical device tax is especially problematic for Indiana because the industry has been a fertile source of job creation in our state,” Pence wrote. “Between 2002 and 2009, the Hoosier state added more than 8,800 life sciences jobs, 5,600 of which were in the medical device sector.”

The Republican-led U.S. House passed legislation early Sunday that delays the federal health care law and repeals the medical device tax, which imposes a 2.3-percent charge on the sales of all medical devices. It was part of a continuing budget resolution meant to keep the federal government operating.

“This awful tax is a job-killer that puts America’s competitive edge at risk at a time when our labor force participation rate is at its lowest level since 1978,” Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, said in a statement. “I was proud to stand before my colleagues and ask them to add a repeal of the medical device tax – an issue that enjoys bipartisan support – in the continuing Resolution.”

The Democratic-led Senate voted to reject the House proposal, although a majority of its members have supported repealing the medical device tax. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, joined his colleagues in voting against the House plan.

“Sen. Donnelly is a co-sponsor and strong supporter of legislation to repeal the medical device tax,” said his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Shappell.

“He does not, however, believe that delaying the health care law by threatening to shut down the government is a responsible approach,” Shappell said. “It is his hope that Congress can take care of the business of keeping the government operating, then consider repeal of the medical device tax and other common sense proposals that would help improve the health care law and boost Indiana’s economy.”

Some of Indiana’s biggest companies have pushing for a repeal of the tax. Last spring, Cook Group Chairman Steve Ferguson the tax “threatens regional economic vitality, badly needed jobs and patients’ hopes for new, life-saving products and treatments.”

“Thousands of layoffs in the U.S. have already occurred because of this tax,” he said.

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