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Public Statements

The Medical Device Industry

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARDNER. I thank the gentleman for his leadership, and the gentleman from Indiana for sharing his experience with the medical device industry in your great State.

I kind of wanted to spend some time walking through the experiences that I have had in Colorado when it comes to innovation in medical technology and some of the things that I've seen firsthand.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that I was able to go to a business in Colorado that had developed a technology to do surgery on people's spinal cords; to help insert a precision tool into the back.

It was almost like a ratchet that you would use in your garage, but obviously a very precise ratchet that you could develop to put into a person's spinal cord, and to tighten the bolt if they had a break, or something that needed to be fastened to save somebody's life, to put somebody's life back together for sure.

Mr. YOUNG of Indiana. One would hope it's precise.

Mr. GARDNER. It's precise. The neat thing about this technology was that you could actually view on the monitor as you're doing this surgery. You could view as the tool is inserted into the back. You could see where it was on the screen. And it immobilized the patient so that it would minimize the side effects. It minimized the risks of injury to the spinal cord.

I visited the business that had a cauterizing tool that they had spent a decade creating. This tool had an electric current running through it, so it would also be allowing a surgeon to cauterize tissue as they were able to perform life-saving surgery. But these tools cost millions of dollars to invent. They cost millions of dollars to research and to develop. They cost millions of dollars to get into surgery rooms around the country to save life.

As we talk about innovation, as we talk about the need to create opportunities for businesses in Colorado, in Indiana, in Minnesota and around this country to grow, we talk about the need to keep that investment happening. But the company told me that over the 10-year course of their business, the medical device tax will run them somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars because of the gross tax nature of the medical device tax. When I asked what the device that we were looking at cost, they said tens of millions of dollars.

So take that tax, that money, that revenue that could go into investment, to creating the next life-saving technology, take that out of that business and you no longer have a life-saving technology because they didn't have the money available to develop that life-saving tool.

So what the medical device tax is doing is it's removing money from the private sector. It's removing their ability to invest money into innovative technologies that save lives.

As we talk about the future of the President's health care bill in this country, we talk about the need for quality care, to reduce the cost of care, to increase the quality of care. But it's not doing that through the device tax because it's penalizing innovative businesses for their success. It's taking away their opportunities to develop new technologies, to create that next cauterizing tool, the next spinal cord tool to build a better life for people.

So as we debate the health care bill, as we debate the future of health care legislation in this country, I hope that people will realize that we shouldn't penalize opportunities to create better tools in health care, that we shouldn't penalize success for innovation. And in a State like Colorado, in a State like ours--Indiana, and yours in Minnesota--I do hope that we can come together in a bipartisan fashion to repeal the medical device tax so that we can actually allow that money to be invested where it matters, and that's in saving lives.

So I thank my colleague from Minnesota for his tremendous leadership, and the gentleman from Indiana for your leadership in making sure that people understand it's not just about a tax, but it is indeed about the opportunity to invest in saving lives.


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