As it first appeared on MassDevice.com in April, 2012.
This past December I inherited the Medical Devices Group, the industry’s only spam-free, curated forum for intelligent conversations with medical device thought leaders. With nearly 110,000 members, the Medical Devices Group is the largest medical group on all of LinkedIn and the 45th-largest among more than two-million LinkedIn groups.
The most discussed topic in the forum? A 2.3-percent excise tax on medical device companies signed into law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
It started months ago, when group member Robert Trinka asked, “Does anyone see anything GOOD for the US medical device industry in the soon to be effective Tongue Depressor Tax?” 100 comments later, the answer in this still-active discussion is an emphatic “no.”
The tax, to be paid by firms with or without net income, roughly doubles the industry’s total tax bill and raises the average effective corporate income tax rate to one the highest faced by any industry in the world. According to a September 2011 study entitled “Employment Effects of the New Excise Tax on the Medical Device Industry,” the tax could result in job losses in excess of 43,000 and wage losses in excess of $3.5 billion.
Now, don’t get me wrong: Talking about the tax has its place but could we actually do something about it? What if we harnessed the energy of the 110,000-member group and tried to affect policy? Could it work?
So last week we launched an online petition featuring video, articles, and downloads about the medical device tax was born. At “no2point3.com,” investors, suppliers, vendors, distributors, employees and adversely affected families can add their names to the July 2011 letter sent to Congress by 400 medical device company leaders, the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA), the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), and others.
I’m encouraged by our early successes. The Office of anti-tax Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) called me with steps to help persuade the Senate. A med device CEO urged his employees, “Please go to http://bit.ly/no2point3 and sign the petition.” Med device publications generously covered our debut and progress.
It’s a long road ahead for Paulsen’s bill for repeal, now with 229 co-sponsors, to pass the Senate. For our grassroots effort, we seek 25,000 signatures so industry can say, “This isn’t just medical device CEOs talking. Your constituents object to the tax as well. Hear their voice and represent their interests.”
The site is co-sponsored by Cook Medical and by my company, Medical Marcom, and we need more sponsors. If your company will be adversely affected by the tax, contact me. We have ambitious plans and with each brand we add to our marquee, the more seriously Congress will take our effort.
MassDevice, thanks for publishing, and readers, please stand with your industry and add your voice to the petition now.
About the Author: Joe Hage is the owner of the largest Medical Devices Group on LinkedIn. As CEO of Medical Marcom, a medical device marketing consultancy, Joe gives medical device companies marketing and communication strategies that generate qualified leads. Reach him at JHage@MedicalMarcom.com.