In a corner of the U.S. Department of Commerce website cluttered with millions of statistics and data sits a series of numbers that paint a stark reality of Obamacare. Most notably, just how much damage one tax created by this onerous law has wielded on U.S. manufacturers across the country.
Earlier this morning, in an analysis released by the national medical device and technology association known as AdvaMed, revised Commerce Department jobs numbers reveal that just one tax – the medical device excise tax – has led to the loss of more than 28,000 U.S.-based manufacturing jobs. The data is part of a U.S. Census Bureau update on employment numbers released late last month across a host of sectors, including the medical technology industry.
A closer look at the recent years the 2.3% device tax was in effect (which began in January 2013 and remained until Congress suspended the tax in late 2015) finds that, year-over-year, jobs were steadily falling as companies were suspending hiring or cutting back on their innovations due to the tax. In 2014 alone – as the full weight of the tax fell like a hammer – the sector saw job counts fall by 27,000.
How could a mere 2.3% tax inflict so much damage? Because medical technology isn’t as easily developed as say, cars or other equipment. Innovation cycles in this highly-advanced sector can run as long as 10 years or more. These companies are always playing the long game – plotting what new designs and inventions are lurking on much longer horizons than we traditionally see. That’s good for patients, because a new hip replacement or diagnostic machine that doesn’t exist today could add more months and years to the lives of millions in the next decade if innovation is allowed to thrive and flourish.
I don’t know about you, but medical technology is a sector I want to be promoting, not stifling! And when I learned that there was no sound policy rationale for this tax, I lost it. Think about it, unlike the insurance industry that was told of the millions of additional customers it would have through the uninsured Americans who would be joining their ranks, device manufacturers did not see the same windfall of customers. This tax is not connected to coverage. Most patients who have these devices are already on Medicare or a health plan in order to receive these life-saving technologies. You don’t just get fitted for a pacemaker coming in off the street to an emergency room.
The Democrat-controlled Congress and the Obama White House needed to pay for the trillion dollar price tag that was Obamacare, and every health care provider from nursing homes to device manufacturers were asked to pony up.
Now, after a few years of hearing the hysteria in the streets on how insurance premiums are rising and costs are unsustainable, we see more quiet, convincing data points that speak truth to the reality this law and all of its trappings must go. More importantly, this is data that the Obama Commerce Department collected and produced just before leaving office. Its findings are unmistakable.
In the coming days, the Republican-led Congress will decide if it wants to keep the taxes to pay for a “replace” plan under President Trump or rid health care providers and manufacturers of the taxes altogether.
To me, the choice is clear. At a time when we should be promoting positive health innovations that could actually slow the rate of spending and speed recovery times and returns to communities, Congress and the Administration should do all it can to end taxes such as the medical device tax.
It’s a proven job-killer when this President has made job creation his number one economic priority.
It’s fair to say most modern economies abhor taxes. Sound macroeconomic policy teaches that taxes, when done right, can deter certain behaviors or spur on others that promote a societal benefit. The device tax serves neither, and must go.