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Upstate Economy Pays the Price for Health-Care Law

By Ann Marie Buerkle


On March 21, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the President’s health-care bill by just seven votes. Two days later, the president signed the bill into law. As a result of this law, medical-device companies will be required to pay a 2.3 percent tax on the sales of medical devices beginning in January 2013. Recently, Welch Allyn, a global medical device and solutions company headquartered in Skaneateles, announced that it would lay off 275 employees, or 10 percent of its work force, over the next three years as a direct result of this new tax. 

This tax, one of 21 in the president’s health-care law, unfairly burdens medical-device companies and, as demonstrated by Welch Allyn, will drive jobs from our local community. During these challenging economic times, the government should be implementing policies that help the economy grow jobs and keep American workers employed. The medical-device tax is an egregious, misguided policy that damages the Central New York economy and negatively affects our local community.

Members of the House of Representatives rightly recognized the impact that the tax will have on the medical-device industry and, in June of this year passed H.R. 436, on a bipartisan basis, to repeal the tax. The Senate has failed to take up the bill for consideration.

The medical-device tax is a clear example of the detrimental effect the health-care law is having on businesses and hard-working Americans across the country. It also makes a strong case for why health-care reform, while undoubtedly needed, cannot be achieved in a massive 2,000 page bill. Reforms must be developed incrementally so that we ensure we are not further burdening small businesses and are actually increasing access to quality, affordable health care.

Last April, President Obama signed into law H.R. 4, which repealed the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 1099 reporting requirement for small businesses. At the time, I commended him for doing the right thing. Once again, the U.S. Senate and president have an opportunity to stand for small businesses and repeal another onerous aspect of the ACA, the medical-device tax. I have urged President Obama and Senate leadership to pass this vitally important legislation and sign it into law before this tax does any further damage.

No nation has ever taxed itself into prosperity, but with the implementation of the medical-device tax looming, we now see that a nation can tax people into unemployment. As I said in one of my recent town hall meetings, as a member of Congress, if something is not good for your district, you do not vote for it. It’s that simple, because at the end of the day, this is not about politics; this is about saving upstate New York jobs. It is about investing in American manufacturing; it is about protecting small businesses and health-care providers. Most importantly, it is about saving lives. We must repeal this ill-considered tax and keep our medical-device companies, like Welch Allyn, alive and prospering.       


Ann Marie Buerkle (R–Onondaga) represents the current 25th Congressional District of New York, which will become the 24th District. The new district encompasses all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne counties, and part of Oswego County.


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