Dems Push to Preserve Medical Device Jobs
During the two-week debate over health care reform in the Senate Finance Committee, it was a Republican — Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) — who pushed back most vocally against a proposal from Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to save $4 billion a year by charging fees to medical device makers. But some Democrats are none too happy with the proposal either.
California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer last Friday sent a letter to Democratic leaders claiming the fees would kill jobs in their state.
California is home to more medical device workers and companies than any other state. Our state is home to 1,300 medical technology firms, which create more than 112,000 related jobs. These California firms represent about 20 percent of total United States medical device sales and approximately one-third of the industry’s jobs.
The showdown highlights the primary struggle facing Democratic leaders trying to rein in medical spending to keep care affordable and federal programs sustainable. That is, the medical industrial complex has evolved into a $2.3 trillion-per-year colossus, and any proposed cuts are sure to get blasted by lawmakers trying to protect regional interests — even when those regional interests run counter to national interests.
Last week, the Finance Committee defeated Kyl’s amendment to eliminate the medical device fees altogether. But the saga is far from over. Indeed, Dow Jones is reporting today that the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the nation’s leading device lobbyist group, is in discussions with Baucus’s office about reducing the fees from $40 billion to $15 billion over 10 years.
“A deal might come within days,” Dow Jones says, citing unnamed industry sources.