Collaboration Should Be the Gold Standard

By: Ann Fyfe on 07/2/15

We learn from a young age that the best way to become most accomplished is to work together. FII has a history of supporting medical innovation by partnering with the best and brightest minds in the industry. After all, that's the crux of our mission: to mentor, train and inspire the next generation of medical innovators.

That's one of the reasons we value our relationship with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who recently visited the Institute. Representatives like Eshoo, who truly care about their constituents, are eager to build these bridges between government and private industry.

Dr. Fogarty has always been a strong proponent of holding people close because he believes that collaborating with others is the best path for accomplishing one's goals. In fact he was one of the first to meet with Rep. Eshoo when she first came to Congress.

The Congresswoman realizes that to best serve her community, she needs to turn to those who are experts in their fields. Government officials are not medical innovators. Nor are government bodies, such as the FDA. And yet, since the public and private sector are both focused on helping Americans continue to scale new heights in medical innovation, working together only makes sense.

A recent successful cooperative effort that has been instrumental in medical innovation is the work of Congressman Erik Paulsen. Representing Minnesota's third congressional district, he has been actively forging a coalition focused on repealing the medical device tax. According to Paulsen, the medical device industry employs more than 400,000 people across the country, including more than 35,000 in his home state of Minnesota.

Early in June, the House Committee on Ways and Means passed legislation authored by Congressman Paulsen to repeal this tax. Paulsen's bill, H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act, eliminates the 2.3 percent excise tax imposed on the sale of medical devices that was included in the Affordable Care Act. The bill had broad bipartisan support with 281 co-sponsors, including 40 Democrats.

But it also had broad support from those in the field - the medical device experts.

As Paulsen spoke at the committee hearing in favor of his legislation, he mentioned a small medical device business in his district in Chanhassen, Minn., Signus Medical, which is paying an effective tax rate of 79 percent because of the tax. Thomas Hoghaug, CEO for Signus Medical, has testified that the medical device tax has resulted in lay-offs and decreased investment in research and development.

"I look around and I don't know how to explain it to everybody," said Hoghaug. "Sorry, I have to lay you off because I have to pay tax to the federal government."

"There have already been thousands of layoffs across the country," Paulsen said. "That means fewer jobs. It means less innovation." He also was concerned about the data he had heard that the tax would translate into cuts for research and development - the innovation of the future.

The repeal of this tax represented the best of collaboration: bipartisan support, companies sharing their stories and information, and our elected government officials resolving to support what's best for their constituents - both companies and patients.

Medical innovation will continue to blaze new trails when we all work together and learn from each other for the greater good.

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