July 2, 2012
Affordable Care Act should stay, but medical device tax should go
June 30, 2012
At its core, the Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare if you must -- is about trying to provide access to health care for the most people at the most affordable price. It tries to meet the assumption that health care should be available to all who need it regardless of their ability to pay -- that it is a right for all and not a privilege to only those who can pay their bill through a growingly complex, convoluted and expensive system.
It's a big, messy law that the Supreme Court upheld in very large part on Thursday, and for that Americans should rejoice. At least Congress won't be going back to Square 1 -- unless the voters tell them to with their ballots in November, which would be unwise but another right Americans enjoy.
But for all the good for consumers in this health care law, we join the voices from our area quite concerned after the stipulation that singles out the medical device industry for a 2.3 percent tax on its products.
The tax would go into effect in January. The U.S. House has passed a bill to repeal the tax, but the Senate has not acted, and that will be a steeper hill to climb.
This is a local issue because of Cook Medical, whose leaders have advocated strongly against the tax. They have local Democratic support though nationally Republicans are carrying the ball.
Both state Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, and state Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, have spoken against the tax. Simpson said it's simply not fair to single out one industry for such a large share of the burden. Both she and Welch note the strong negative impact implementing the tax could have on Indiana employers and, thus, available jobs and wages. George Telthorst, director of the Center for the Business of Life Sciences in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, backs up that perspective and said it will also force medical device companies to back off on capital investments and innovation.
Those risks are not reasonable in such depressed economic times. Yes, the Affordable Care Act helps consumers in a lot of ways. But hurting others by costing them their jobs is a bad trade-off. Work should continue on repealing that specific tax in the law.