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April 23, 2014

Brown attacks medical device tax in Salem visit

Shaheen agrees, but approaches differ

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SALEM — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Republican candidate Scott Brown may not have a lot in common, but they do agree on one issue.

The nation’s 2.3 percent tax on medical devices must be repealed.

But they differ on how it should be eliminated. Brown believes the entire Affordable Care Act should be axed while Shaheen has supported amendments to the act.

The former Massachusetts senator voiced his opposition to the tax during a visit yesterday to Gamma Medica Inc. in Salem, a medical imaging firm.

“It’s just a money grab to help fund Obamacare,” Brown said. “You fix it by repealing it.”

Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, toured the 29-employee company with Gamma Medica executives, including president and CEO Jim Calandra.

The company, which opened on Manor Parkway in July, specializes in the development of equipment used to detect breast cancer.

Calandra, who called the tax a bipartisan issue, told Brown the levy is expected to cost his company about $150,000 this year.

It would prevent him from hiring at least two employees or investing further in research and development, he said

“This is an issue that really means something to us,” Calandra said. “It’s a big impact — it’s 2.3 percent off the top line.”

Gamma Medica has developed 15 breast-imaging devices that are in use across the country, Calandra said. The 16th will be installed at Salem Radiology in June, he said.

Screenings cost about $200, he said, and are an ideal alternative for women who cannot receive an MRI because of a pacemaker or other health complications.

Each device is worth about $400,000. Gamma Medica is expected to earn $5 million to $6 million in sales this year, Calandra said.

Brown said the tax is a frustration voiced by other medical companies across the state, including Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics in Manchester.

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