Beckman hopes reform fees go up in smoke

November 9, 2009

Have healthcare companies sunk as far as controversial tobacco companies in the public eye? One medical equipment maker thinks so.

Makers of medical tests, implants and other devices face anywhere from $2 billion-a-year in industry-wide taxes in the House of Representatives’ health reform bill passed on Saturday to $4 billion-a-year under a Senate version.
The Senate measure’s tax is not deductible and would be applied much like the tobacco settlement from cigarette makers years ago, said Beckman Coulter CEO Scott Garrett.

“That hurts, that stings to be treated like the tobacco industry,” he told the Reuters Health Summit in New York.

It could hurt customers — hospitals, patients and others — too. Companies have said they would have pass along any higher costs from the tax directly onto users.

Garrett, whose company makes clinical diagnostic tests as well as other research instruments, said he was “rooting for the House version,” which is tax deductible and phases in the charges starting in 2013.

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