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Public Statements

Medical Technology Caucus

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 5, 2011, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Paulsen) is recognized for 30 minutes.

Mr. PAULSEN. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

For the next few minutes, some of us who are members of the Medical Technology Caucus are going to share some of our thoughts about some of the recent troubling developments that are threatening this American industry. I will tell you, as cochair of the Medical Technology Caucus, in Minnesota, I get a chance to tour these companies. We all know the big names of the big titan companies; but nearly every week, I get a chance to tour one of these small companies that might have five employees, that might have 10 employees--companies that are not yet profitable.

They're working on these really innovative and neat technologies that are there to help patients improve their lives and save their lives. In fact, Mr. Speaker, from 1980 to 2000, the medical technology firms were responsible for a 4 percent increase in U.S. life expectancy, a 16 percent decrease in mortality rates, and also an astounding 25 percent decline in elderly disability rates. I think, as we'll hear from some of our colleagues, particularly from the Indiana delegation, which is where we were just about a week and a half ago, we're learning there are some new hurdles on the horizon.

Number one, there is a medical device tax that will be imposed in just a little over a year. It's a $20 billion tax, and studies have shown it's going to cost the industry about 10 percent of their workforce. It's about 43,000 jobs that will be at risk. In fact, I just met with an owner of a company today who mentioned that he believes this excise tax, if put in place 1 year from now, will cost his company at least 50 high-paying jobs.

Then you have the other issue of just an FDA that has become so bureaucratic, so unpredictable, so inconsistent, and so nontransparent that it's becoming more difficult for these companies to bring these lifesaving technologies to market to make sure that the patients have access to them.

I have traveled the country--to California, to Boston, to New York, and we'll have a chance to go to North Carolina--where these pockets of industries in the medical technology field are really strong and vibrant. One area in particular was Indiana.

We were there just a little over a week and a half ago, and I will tell you, of the folks who testified there--the companies and the presence there and the jobs there--it was compelling. In fact, I'll never forget the words from one of the testifiers there at the committee when he mentioned, when he gets asked for advice on where to invest, on where to start up, that his advice to new companies is, Go to Europe. Go to Europe.

That is the wrong message.

Mr. Speaker, in this down economy, when we are trying to save jobs, when we are trying to encourage job creation, we're encouraging one of our best American success stories, one of our few net exporters, to move overseas.

We've got legislation that's actually moving forward now. Many of these members are coauthors of not only repealing the tax but also of streamlining and modernizing the FDA to make sure we're doing what Europe is doing, for instance, and to make sure we don't have as high a hurdle. We want to make sure there is a strong, relevant, rigorous process at the FDA because these companies want the gold standard. They want the gold standard of approval, but they don't want the goalpost moved in the middle of the process to make it so ridiculous that their investments are not going to be worthy of the risk/reward that they hope to have pay off.

When we were in Indiana, we had a bipartisan gathering of Mr. Rokita, Mr. Young, Mr. Stutzman, and Mr. Donnelly who were there, along with Representative Guthrie from the Energy and Commerce Committee. They took the time to come out, to listen to these companies that testified and also, more importantly, to listen to the patients. We had a patient testify as well, Sheila Fraser, who is a young high school student who was testifying about a device that was implanted in her leg. It truly is an amazing success story because, in a lot of cases, folks like her have to have amputations, and this is a device that is now improving her life.

So I think, as much as we like to talk about the jobs and the economic benefits, it's also just as important to hear it from the patients' perspectives as to how these lifesaving technologies are helping them and how these life-improving technologies are helping them.

As I mentioned earlier, we've been to California, and Mr. Bilbray is going to talk in a little while. This is an industry that covers many spectrums of the economy across the country. So I just want folks who are watching out there in America to understand there are some of us who really care about this industry. We're fighting for it, and we appreciate the input and dialogue that we've had as a part of that.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I want to first yield to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Rokita), who has been a leader already on this issue and has helped us get coauthors to repeal that onerous innovation tax.

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Mr. PAULSEN. I thank the gentleman again for his leadership. I just want to mention too, you had mentioned all the authors of this bill that are trying to repeal this onerous tax. There are actually 204 Members now, Mr. Speaker, that want to repeal this tax, bipartisan support. The amount of money this tax is expected to raise is actually equal annually to the amount of money that's invested in the industry every year. So it is a very wrongheaded move.

One of the first coauthors of this bill that would repeal this tax and who, I think, recognizes the importance of this industry is my friend and colleague from Pennsylvania. I yield to him and thank him for his leadership and for being a part of the caucus effort.

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Mr. PAULSEN. I thank the gentleman again for his leadership and for really standing up for Pennsylvania companies and understanding this is an American success story, as he outlined. He is actually a coauthor of some bills that are there to streamline and modernize the FDA, which we will talk about in a second as well.

We also have my friend, the gentleman from Indiana, here as well. Mr. Stutzman, I think you were at the hearing. Maybe you could share some of what you learned from the hearing in Indiana.

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Mr. PAULSEN. As you mentioned, I think one of the things that folks don't often recognize, the medical device industry is high-value manufacturing. Boy, I think of a State like California and the high-value manufacturing that exists there. I visited some companies in California one time, and I would like to yield to Mr. Bilbray who has been a leader on moving some of the packages of bills to help streamline the FDA and to modernize the FDA as well.

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Mr. PAULSEN. I thank the gentleman for being a leader. When folks think of States like California, they think of high technology and medical devices, but it's the investors who have a large component in States like California that invest in these companies. Unfortunately, the FDA has become so risk averse that the investors aren't investing the resources needed to start the new products, and that's the pipeline going over to Europe. That's the challenge we have.

Someone else at the hearing a little over a week ago was my friend and colleague, Mr. Young, who also heard some of these personal stories not only from the patient perspective but the innovator perspective.

I want to thank the gentleman from Indiana for his leadership and for inviting me to be a part of that hearing in Indiana.

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