Five Democratic senators have signed on to legislation to repeal Obamacare's medical device tax, leaving Republicans just one vote short of the 60 they need to prevent a filibuster, the Washington Examiner reported.
The bill, authored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, would repeal the 2.3 percent tax, which critics say discourages medical innovation and increases the cost of health care. The tax is supposed to raise $20 billion
through fiscal year 2019 to help pay for Obamacare.
But bipartisan opposition to the tax has mounted, and a growing number of Democrats who voted for the law have joined Republicans in calling for the levy to be repealed.
"Every dollar medical device manufacturers spend on this onerous tax is a dollar taken away from American innovation, job growth and the ability to provide groundbreaking medical technologies to patients in need," said Hatch, a Utah Republican.
Hatch added that lawmakers from both parties "understand just how bad this tax really is" and understand the importance of ensuring that "the development of life-saving medical devices [is] not plagued by high costs that will, ultimately, be passed on to patients."
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto previous efforts to repeal the tax. But mounting public skepticism about Obamacare and the sweeping midterm election victory for Republican critics of the law have made congressional Democrats increasingly willing to break with the president.
Right now, five Senate Democrats — Minnesota's Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar; Joe Donnelly of Indiana; Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire; and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania — have signed on to repeal legislation.
A version of the bill introduced in the House has received more than 250 sponsors, among them 29 Democrats, The Washington Times reported.
Defenders of the tax point to a Congressional Research Service report
which says the projected job loss due resulting from it is "probably no more than 0.2 percent" of related jobs, making the maximum impact 1,200 jobs, depending on how consumers respond.
Critics of the tax argue that these claims substantially understate the amount of damage done by the tax, pointing to announcements
of between 1,000 and 2,000 layoffs by two companies — the Denver-based Stryker Corp and Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific — just weeks after the tax went into effect at the beginning of 2013.
Other estimates have put the job losses attributable to the tax at between 4,700 and 43,000.
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