U.S. med tech sector lost 28,000+ jobs under med device tax: AdvaMed

The Senate side of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The 2.3% medical device tax was suspended in a $1.8 trillion taxation and spending bill.

When the medical device excise tax was in effect, the med tech industry lost nearly 29,000, or 7.2%, of its jobs, according to an AdvaMed analysis of Department of Commerce figures. The drop occurred between 2012, the year before the tax was enacted, and 2015, when it was suspended in a tax and spending bill.

“These numbers reveal just how devastating of an impact the device tax had on our industry and underscore the urgent need for permanent repeal,” said AdvaMed CEO Scott Whitaker, in a statement. “At a time when American device manufacturers are ready to grow and create jobs, the best message this Congress and the Administration can send is through a full and permanent repeal.”

While AdvaMed’s latest analysis comes from revised numbers from the Department of Commerce, the claim that the device tax resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs is not new.

In 2015, The Washington Post looked into two separate claims made by lawmakers that the device tax had cost devicemakers more than 33,000 jobs. The figures were based on an AdvaMed survey to which 55 of AdvaMed’s nearly 300 member companies responded. It pegged actual job losses at 14,000 and “forgone hiring” in response to the tax at 19,000, totaling 33,000, a misleading figure when used to refer to jobs “lost.”

Implemented in 2013 to help fund the Affordable Care Act, the 2.3% medical device excise tax has been a target of med tech lobbyists arguing it would quash innovation and spike healthcare costs.

Since 2012, the House has passed several bills seeking to repeal the device tax. When President Barack Obama signed a $1.8 trillion taxation and spending bill in December 2015, the device tax was suspended for two years.

With one year to go in the tax’s suspension, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are sponsoring a bill to repeal the tax. Meanwhile, House representatives have introduced the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2017, which seeks to do the same.