Connections : Join the Conversation - The blog of Biomet CEO Jeffrey R. Binder
As part of our advocacy on behalf of our customers and our industry, we find ourselves frequently visiting Washington, D.C. Biomet recently held meetings with the staff of three senators and three representatives, including in two instances the representatives themselves. Our message to the legislators focused on the importance of preserving patient access to specialty care (see my blog entry “Specialists Under Fire”) and the value of orthopedic surgery.
I also recently spent two days in Washington, D.C., speaking at a healthcare conference and meeting with Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Max Baucus (D-MT). I found the experience enlightening.
My primary topic was a proposed excise tax on medical device companies, which Senator Baucus’s Finance Committee included in its healthcare legislation draft. While we generally support the goals of healthcare reform, including lower costs and improved access and quality, the tax is an immediate threat to medical device companies that demands urgent action from industry representatives.
I believe that this tax will do one of two things, neither of which is consistent with the goals of effective healthcare reform or economic recovery.
The first possibility is that the tax will drive up the cost of medical products as manufacturers attempt to recoup the tax with higher prices. The second possibility is that our customers (hospitals, clinicians, outpatient centers and ambulatory surgical centers), facing reimbursement reductions themselves, will successfully resist higher prices, forcing manufacturers to offset the additional costs.
I explained all this to Senators Bayh and Baucus. Senator Bayh has publicly expressed support for our position (see http://bayh.senate.gov/news/press/release/?id=0c2b0077-8242-4485-84bc-9cc3441e449c), as have numerous other legislators. They share our commitment to protecting jobs and promoting innovation that delivers life-changing and cost-saving benefits to patients.
Senator Baucus, while not outwardly swayed by my arguments and those of my colleagues from other device companies, was respectful and interested in what we had to say. It was encouraging to know that the Senate’s point man on healthcare reform was open to meeting with industry representatives and thoughtfully considering our position.
Senator Baucus has worked extremely hard to ensure bipartisan participation in a contentious and complicated legislative process, and continues to make himself available to the various stakeholders. He struck me as a practical person and one who is looking for all players to share in reaching appropriate compromises.
This visit to Washington, D.C. was certainly not my first, but it was one of the most important for my company and the healthcare professionals and patients we serve. We will passionately advocate for our point of view, and work tirelessly on behalf of our team members, our industry, our customers, and their patients. We will disagree with aspects of the Senate healthcare reform package, but we will do so with the interests of all these stakeholders in mind.
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