Two years ago this month, as public debate over Obamacare raged, former president Bill Clinton rushed to the hospital because of a heart condition. He immediately underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. It was a timely reminder about the dangers of stifling private-sector medical innovation. No one listened.
Stents don’t grow on trees. They were not created, developed, marketed, or sold by government bureaucrats and lawmakers. One of the nation’s top stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific, warned at the time that Obamacare’s punitive medical-device tax would lead to worker losses and research cuts. The 2.3 percent excise tax, the company said, “would be very damaging to Boston Scientific, and the medical device industry as a whole. In a nutshell, it would raise costs and lead to significant job losses. It does not address the quality of care but the political scorecard of savings.”
Cook Medical — which manufactures products for endovascular therapy, critical-care medicine and general surgery; diagnostic and interventional procedures; bioengineered tissue replacement and regeneration; gastroenterology and endoscopy procedures; urology, obstetrics, and gynecology — has called for the levy’s repeal. Cook Group chairman Stephen Ferguson noted the tax burden amounted to a whopping 55 percent of its profits.
Stryker, a maker of artificial hips and knees based in Kalamazoo, Mich., announced in November that it would slash 5 percent of its global workforce (an estimated 1,000 workers) this coming year to reduce costs related to Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.
Covidien, a New York–based surgical-supplies manufacturer, recently announced layoffs of 200 American workers and plans to move some of its plant work to Mexico and Costa Rica, in part because of the coming tax hit.
Massachusetts-based Zoll Medical Corp., which makes defibrillators and employs some 1,800 workers in the U.S. and around the world, says the medical-device tax will cost the company between $5 million and $10 million a year. Its profit in 2009 was $9.5 million. “Running our company at close to break even would not be a sustainable position for us,” CEO Richard Packer said in a public statement, “so we will be forced to look at alternatives.”
Those “alternatives” include cutting payroll, cutting R and D, and passing on the costs to patients, of course. Industry estimates put the tax-induced job losses at 43,000. So far, the number-crunchers at 1600 Pennsylvania are mum on the number of potential jobs — and lives — destroyed by the medical-innovation death tax.
In fact, the Obama administration’s response so far has been a flippant shrug. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose only manufacturing claims to fame are faulty tax returns and near-double-digit unemployment figures, brushed off concerns this week about the medical-device tax. Obamacare’s expanded access to health care, he argues blithely, will create more consumers for their products. “On balance, it is a good package for people in the health-care business,” he told Bloomberg News.
Fewer jobs. Fewer entrepreneurs. Fewer medical advances. Only with a gallon of self-delusion does the Obamacare medical-tax medicine amount to anything other than economic and medical malpractice.
Obama 2012: Winning the future . . . by killing it.
— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies. © 2012 Creators.com