Impact of Health Care Law: Less Innovation in Medical Devices

It’s hard to imagine the discussions that went into the writing of the legislation to expand the federal government’s role in health care, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

But how do we pay for all this?

Well, our medical device industry is the global leader, innovating and really stimulating economic growth.

Good, let’s tax it!

Which leads us to this entry in the new report from Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John Barrasso (R-WY), both doctors, “Grim Diagnosis – A check-up on the federal health law.”

Companies that innovate, create, and develop life-saving, life-improving devices will likely lose jobs too. Manufacturers of medical devices are reeling from a provision of the law that will levy a $20 billion excise tax on their industry. The Boston Globe reported that the 2.3 percent excise tax on companies that supply medical devices like heart defibrillators and surgical tools to hospitals, health centers and ambulance services, will force industry leaders to lay off workers and curb the research and development of new medical tools. One CEO said the new tax threatens his business‘ sustainability because it has relegated his company‘s profitability to merely a break-even position.

The basic problem with the tax is one of math. Many small to midsize medical device companies will owe more to the federal government in taxes than they make in profits, according to Mark Leahy, head of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association. “We’re talking about a 2.3 percent tax on total sales, irrespective of whether a company is making a profit.” The device tax will hamper innovation, since the amount of money available for a company to reinvest in its business development will be reduced. Some companies are already contemplating moving jobs overseas to avoid losing their competitive edge. Outsourcing is just one of many adverse unintended consequences of the new law.

The news release is, “Drs. Coburn and Barrasso Release New Health Care Report.” Jobs will be lost.

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