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Health Care Archives - Shopfloor

Looming Deadlines on Health Care Taxes Require Urgent Action

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments
While manufacturers are disappointed that the Senate was unable to pass a full repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in July, legislative efforts to combat the negative consequences of the ACA must not only continue but also be resolved before new taxes raise health care costs.The manufacturing industry has a history of leading the business community in providing health benefits to employees; 98 percent of National Association of Manufacturers’ members provide health insurance to employees. For that tradition to continue, Congress must act quickly to prevent the job-killing ACA-related taxes from going into effect in 2018. That means taking quick and decisive action when the House and Senate return from their August recess.

A new Oliver Wyman report just released demonstrates the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) will result in higher health insurance premiums totaling $22 billion for more than 100 million Americans nationwide. This ACA tax will be paid by many, including those who are “fully insured,” meaning those employers who work directly with insurance brokers to purchase employee health plans. Even retirees who are accessing insurance through Medicare Advantage programs will be hit by the HIT.

For manufacturers who are fully insured and those purchasing individual plans, this tax only adds to rising costs and higher premiums. Joe Eddy, president and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing, told his story before the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier this year. He explained the ACA taxes and compliance burdens “have been costly, disruptive and distracting from the things we are good at doing as manufacturers.”

According to the Oliver Wyman report summarized here, the HIT could raise the cost of premiums by an additional $540 for employees’ families receiving health benefits from fully insured larger employers. Small business owners and their employees could shoulder an additional $500 for family coverage as a result of the HIT. These cost increases are preventable if Congress acts. Manufacturers provide competitive health benefits to attract and maintain skilled employees and because manufacturers know it’s the right thing to do. Congress should be making it easier to provide insurance, not more difficult.

Regrettably, it’s not just the HIT. The medical device tax—another tax that discourages innovation, growth and job creation—is ready to go into effect next year. In 2015, a temporary suspension of the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers was enacted after 29,000 jobs were lost as a result of the misguided tax. However, that two-year relief runs out at the end of 2017, making full repeal of this tax critical to manufacturers of medical devices. Manufacturers support immediate action to permanently repeal the medical device tax to prevent this tax from eliminating jobs and hurting local economies in all 50 states.

It was unfortunate that the Senate did not pass major health care reform legislation in July, but manufacturers urge the Senate not to give up efforts. Both the House and Senate must advance opportunities to address the burdensome taxes associated with the ACA because the deadlines are around the corner and the clock is ticking.

 

Price Controls Harm Innovation and Interfere with Competitive Markets

By | Innovation, intellectual property, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Some members of the Oregon legislature continue to propose unwieldy requirements and burdensome rebates on manufacturers of pharmaceuticals in an effort to cap drug prices. These efforts will not “control” the price of drugs for consumers but will instead create scenarios that will likely limit choice, restrict supply and increase costs. Moreover, price controls discourage innovation and act as a disincentive for robust research and development (R&D) efforts.

While rising health care costs are a significant concern for Americans, there are very few examples in history where price controls have worked for a full segment of the population. Artificially setting prices does not take into account all of the costs and factors that go into creating a new product, such as numerous failed clinical trials or drugs whose revenue fail to cover development costs. Price controls distort incentives in the market and result in product shortages, which could ultimately increase future health care costs.

Lawmakers must consider carefully the negative impacts of imposing price controls and diminishing any intellectual property protections. Attempts to jeopardize all of the investment and years of work associated with the creation of new medicines and products will discourage R&D and innovation—all at the expense of manufacturers’ competitiveness and the future well-being of patients. As the legislative session winds down in Salem, we urge elected officials to be mindful of these adverse impacts.

Protect Montana’s Innovators, “Transparency” Legislation Is Wrong Approach

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Montana manufacturers, technology companies and other research-based operations are global innovators. Manufacturers in particular account for more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the United States. R&D is critical to the success of the countless Montana enterprises that rely on innovation. And in an extremely competitive global economy, if a company isn’t innovating, it’s falling behind.

This is especially true for biopharmaceutical manufacturers creating new medicines for patients and animals. However, the price of manufacturing a new medicine is extremely costly and risky. On average, it takes a decade to bring a new patient medicine through the entire R&D process and into the marketplace, and only about 12 percent of the medicines that enter the process are actually approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that manufacturers’ R&D and proprietary information are not compromised.

Unfortunately, “transparency” legislation was recently introduced in Montana that would force biopharmaceutical manufacturers to turn over highly confidential information and proprietary data related to R&D as well as sales and marketing costs. This approach would have damaging effects and would not reduce health care costs. Requiring manufacturers to publicly reveal a breakdown of specific costs and information related to trade secrets would in no way benefit consumers and could impede competition, which would drive up costs.

The time, effort and costs associated with bringing new medicines or products to market must be acknowledged and valued. While this specific bill is targeted at manufacturers of medicine, it sets an alarming precedent for manufacturers across all industries. In short, it’s a slippery slope for all industries once established.  Any legislation that jeopardizes manufacturers’ highly confidential information and deters innovators from innovating is a threat to consumers, manufacturing jobs and the state’s economy.

The manufacturing industry employs more than 18,700 Montanans in high-skilled and high-wage jobs. Policymakers in Montana and at the federal level should work to create policies that help innovators attract and retain investment. The NAM opposes any efforts that would invalidate longstanding intellectual property and trade secrets protections and force manufacturers of medicines to heed new government-driven demands that are contrary to basic free market principles.

NAM Supports Bill to Repeal Health Insurance Tax

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The onerous Health Insurance Tax included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was delayed thanks to bipartisan congressional action in 2015, and now new efforts to permanently repeal the anticipated 2018 tax are in the beginning stages.

Today, Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced important legislation that repeals section 9010 of the ACA, a provision that levies a $100 billion tax on fully insured health plans—the primary health care option for many small and medium-sized manufacturers. Although officially a tax on health insurance plans, it is a “pass-through,” and the obligation is placed directly on those who are purchasing full-insured health plans.

The NAM has long supported repeal of this tax as it raises the cost of health care and provides an additional burden for employers who are also struggling to manage the overwhelming health care mandates and paperwork demands required by the ACA.

Manufacturers are proud to provide health insurance benefits for their employees, and in fact, 98 percent of manufacturers provide health insurance. Repeal of this tax will offer needed relief for smaller manufacturers who want to maintain a healthy workforce and continue doing right by their employees. However, challenges from the ACA are making it increasingly difficult to do so.

No one understands the frustrations of our health care system quite like manufacturersrising health care and insurance costs are a top business challenge in our most recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey. The Competing to Win agenda and health care policy blueprint of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) calls on the next Congress and administration to find solutions that will successfully eliminate the costliest and most problematic aspects of the ACA. The NAM appreciates the leadership of Reps. Noem and Sinema and urges Congress not only to consider this important legislation but also include it in the upcoming budget reconciliation package, along with a repeal of the Cadillac and medical device taxes.

Manufacturers’ Prescription for Health Care

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

After the economy and jobs, Americans rate health care as their top public policy concern. And the majority of Americans (54 percent) disapprove of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the Pew Research Center.

No one understands the frustrations of our health care system quite like manufacturers. In the National Association of Manufacturers most recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, rising health care and insurance costs ranked as a top business challenge among NAM members (74.8 percent), slightly ahead of an unfavorable business climate (73.6 percent). There are a host of factors that lead to this frustration, and many feel trapped in a problem that is of the government’s making.

Americans deserve better than this. We are a nation that prides itself on first-class, best-in-the-world medical care. Our institutions, public and private, continue to lead the world on patient care, lifesaving treatments and medical research. But we have to keep working to control or lower the cost of coverage through reasonable approaches.

So manufacturers, through our “Competing to Win” agenda and health care policy blueprint, are calling on the next Congress and administration to find solutions that will successfully eliminate the costliest and most problematic aspects of the ACA:

  • The 40 percent tax on employee benefits and other mandated taxes
  • Onerous administrative requirements
  • Upward pressure on medical liability costs

Manufacturers also believe reform should have some key goals:

  • Encourage flexibility and data sharing
  • Allow for new innovations in coverage options rather than locking in one model
  • Provide consumers more information to make better choices

Manufacturers recognize that providing health care coverage is a necessity to remain competitive in attracting talent and maintaining a healthy, stable workforce. It’s what is right for employees.

Ninety-eight percent of manufacturers offer health insurance to employees, and when asked about how they might react to increasing costs for offering health care in an NAM survey of members, only 1.6 percent planned to stop providing coverage.

Without action from our leaders, manufacturers have innovated with their own solutions to improve health care:

  • Opting for new plans and payment arrangements
  • Bringing medical care, pharmacy services and wellness programs on-site or near-site
  • Focusing on addressing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and asthma

If President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congress follow manufacturers’ lead, our people and our economy will be healthier for it.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Impeding the Development of Lifesaving Products Is What’s Really “Dangerous”

By | Health Care, Innovation, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

If you’re following debates in the Senate, you may have heard Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others refer to one important piece of pending legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act, as “corrupt” and “dangerous.”

Well, she certainly got my attention. But what is really alarming is that Sen. Warren’s attack is baseless. In fact, the effort to derail the 21st Century Cures Act is what is really dangerous—and alarming.

Here’s why:

Manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals save lives and improve the human condition. Their breakthroughs in scientific advances and technological innovations create jobs for scientists and researchers as well as machinists and those on the manufacturing line.

Their work is essential to both the health of our families and our economy.

Unfortunately, due to an outdated federal device and drug approval process, manufacturers in the United States face burdensome costs and unnecessary delays in the development of innovative, lifesaving products.

The 21st Century Cures legislation works to address these challenges. It will modernize our approach to the discovery, development and delivery of medical innovations to ensure that the United States maintains its rightful position of leadership in the global economy at a time when foreign competitors are catching up.

This bill, which represents a bipartisan negotiation in the House and Senate, has been significantly debated over the past two years. The act focuses on important investments in basic research that will lead to further advancement in the development of treatments and products, help fight diseases and other chronic conditions and allow for small business flexibility to provide health care options to employees.

In addition, the legislation also includes a fix to the Affordable Care Act that will allow small businesses to use Health Reimbursement Arrangements to provide health care options for their employees, a practice that is currently heavily fined by the IRS.

Attempts to call this effort “corrupt” and “dangerous” are baseless and more about making points based on political rhetoric, completely ignoring the positive and much needed provisions of the legislation.

Too much progress is at stake. Americans should hold Sen. Warren accountable for attempting to hold up these much needed medical advances—all to score political points.

Discouraging Innovation at State or Federal Levels Is Not the Answer

By | Innovation, intellectual property, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

For manufacturers and all innovators in the United States, the protection of intellectual property (IP), including trade secrets, helps drive not only success but also a continuous cycle of innovation. As such, the United States has historically upheld a very strong record of protecting IP through both federal and state laws. After all, if the government can’t ensure sufficient protections, all incentive is lost in spending billions of dollars on research and development (R&D) only to have the resulting product stolen or devalued. Read More

Lose–Lose Proposal from UNHLP Panel Represents a Missed Opportunity and Poses a Real Threat

By | Health Care, Innovation, intellectual property, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

A highly flawed report that employs the mantle of global health to take aim at innovation and manufacturing was released today by a U.N. panel, representing a real missed opportunity to focus the world on collaborative and effective solutions that could make a substantial difference for real people facing access barriers.  Read More

President’s Special JAMA Article Defends Continued Health Care Overreach

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The thesis is more of the same from President Obama and his administration: A public option and continued federal interference in health care markets will strengthen and improve the legacy of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The president’s recent submission to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is a personal policy defense of his hallmark health care initiative before the medical community. The president even took the opportunity to go beyond ACA and attacked pharmaceutical manufacturers to relinquish hard-earned intellectual property in the name of pricing transparency, a flawed policy approach that will fail to lower prescription drug prices and only stifle medical innovation and future discovery.

Unfortunately, many of the president’s arguments in the special JAMA article fail to recognize the negative impacts of the law on the already-insured and the employer community, which robustly provides health insurance for nearly half of the nation’s population.

Ninety-eight percent of manufacturers offer health insurance to employees and anxieties continue concerning the possible implementation of the employee benefits taxa 40 percent surcharge paid by employers on benefits that exceed a certain cost for a family or individual. Furthermore, manufacturers continue to report significant concerns with rising health care costs.

While Congress has granted a delay of the so-called “Cadillac” tax until 2020, the president defended the tax as an incentive to improve private-sector health plans. For employers, the continued uncertainty surrounding the ACA and new bureaucratic entanglements set in motion six years ago have created a headache that has yet to subside.

As the election approaches with a new president and new Congress set to take office in 2017, manufacturers will continue to fight senseless red tape that obstructs the ability to offer quality health care. A permanent repeal of the Cadillac tax and the punitive medical device tax are top priorities post-November, as both provisions of the ACA have come to represent balance transfers from productive profit centers to a Rube Goldberg machine that is our health care system. Manufacturers will continue to lead by providing health benefits to employees and will support efforts that make it easier, not harder, to provide these important benefits.

NAM Supports Health Care Flexibility for Small Manufacturers

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the House is considering positive legislation allowing small employers the flexibility to offer pretax dollars to help pay premiums and/or other out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care and services. The Small Business Health Care Relief Act (H.R. 5447), sponsored by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), allows employers with fewer than 50 employees to provide Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to employees with health insurance.

Effective July 1, 2015, an IRS guidance placed a $100-per-day, per-employee penalty for employers that fail to offer a group health plan but provide tax-preferred dollars through an HRA for their workers to pay health insurance premiums or other direct medical expenses. The Small Business Health Care Relief Act allows small businessesthat are not required by the Affordable Care Act to provide health insuranceto provide some assistance to their employees and provide these HRAs. This simple, logical and bipartisan change will increase coverage, improve flexibility and promote wellness for manufacturers and other small employers.

The NAM recently signed onto a letter encouraging passage of this legislation in the House, and we urge action in the Senate.