Reed, Whitehouse vote to repeal tax on medical-device makers

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse were among the 79 senators who voted Thursday night to get rid of a tax on sales of medical devices passed in 2010 to help fund President Obama’s health reform law.

The two Rhode Island senators joined 31 of their fellow Democrats and all 45 Republicans in voting to repeal the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, which took effect Jan. 1. Getting rid of it would cost the federal government $29 billion from 2013 to 2022, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning Washington think-tank that opposed repealing it.

Whitehouse and another stalwart liberal, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, were among those who sided with the device industry on the repeal measure, which was introduced by Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah and has been the subject of a heavy lobbying effort.

Stephen Lane, chairman and chief venture officer of the Providence-based medical-device firm Ximedica, said at a manufacturing forum last year co-hosted by Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin that the tax was causing his industry to move production to Asia. Cicilline and Langevin voted to keep the tax, and Cicilline clashed over the question with his Republican opponent Brendan Doherty in a WPRI 12 debate last fall.

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