Don’t raise levies on device manufacturers

The Senate’s health care bill includes a costly tax on medical device manufacturers.

Health care reform is happening, but not in everyoneâÄôs best interest. Democrats sitting on the Senate Finance Committee inserted into the health care reform bill a $40 billion fee, paid over 10 years, on our nationâÄôs medical device manufacturers. The reasoning, according to Richard Kirsch, a campaign manager at Health Care for America Now is that “[Medical device manufacturers] don’t accept any responsibility for their role in driving up health-care costs.âÄù Medical device manufacturers do not drive up health-care costs, they simply respond to the demands of consumers and the health care industry. People want the best health care they can get: more accurate testing procedures to diagnose early and start prevention. This means more MRI machines in more health care centers around the country to make them accessible for people everywhere. People want the absolute best possible chance of survival or recovery, which means hospitals purchase expensive machinery to do the best they can. Democrats are failing to remember that developing this cutting-edge medical technology, which many of their constituents desire, is not cheap. Devices now on the market went through dozens of prototypes, almost all as expensive or more expensive to create than the final product, as well as extremely intensive testing before being approved for sale. Not all of the products that device manufacturers work hard to perfect are approved either, effectively shelving or scrapping projects that have already been heavily invested in. And now, Democrats are looking to âÄúpunishâÄù device manufacturers for failing to come to an agreement on financial concessions to help pay for the cost of health care reform. However, if Democrats want to lower the cost of health care, they should recall that raising taxes usually does little to decrease the cost of a product âÄî prices rise to factor in increased taxes. In addition, these fees place a burden on smaller manufacturers, likely driving some out of business and effectively destroying the competition that encourages larger manufacturers to keep their prices down. For a state like Minnesota, home to Medtronic and other device manufacturers, these fees mean cuts to some of the best positions in the state. Many different voices have come together in opposition to these fees, including Governor Pawlenty and Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. It isnâÄôt too often youâÄôll see these names from the opposing party tents come together on an issue, which should be a strong indicator that these fees are not good for Minnesota and Minnesota-based corporations like Medtronic. Taxing the device developers is not going to make health care more affordable, itâÄôs going to make it more expensive. Jon Radermacher welcomes comments at [email protected]