Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Congress should keep tax on medical devices

Repealing one provision of the Affordable Care Act has gained some bipartisan support during the budget stalemate in Congress. A small tax on medical devices that helps pay for the law is unpopular with Republicans and some Democrats from high-tech states who want to kill it. But the tax is a sensible way to get a major player in the lucrative health care industry to help defray some of the costs of health care reform, and it should not be repealed unless replacement revenue is found.

The 2.3 percent excise tax, which took effect in January, is aimed at U.S. sales of medical devices sold through doctors' offices and hospitals. Those devices include hip replacement devices, implants, pacemakers and even bandages. It does not apply to consumer items bought at retail outlets, such as eyeglasses, hearing aids and wheelchairs. Over 10 years, the tax will bring in an estimated $30 billion. It is one of the taxes that helps fully pay for the health care law, along with new taxes on health insurers, drug companies and tanning salons.

This array of revenue streams makes the Affordable Care Act a more responsible law than the Bush administration's Medicare drug benefit, which passed without being funded and added directly to the deficit. Any repeal of the medical device tax would have to be made up by another tax. The source of that revenue should have to be named by any lawmaker favoring repeal. Senate Democrats rejected the House's repeal effort, but many indicated their support for the idea in an earlier vote. A symbolic vote by the Senate in March to repeal the tax passed 79-20, with 33 Democrats favoring repeal.

The arguments against the medical devices tax are weak. The $130 billion medical device industry in the United States complains about being singled out, but it is about to gain a windfall under the Affordable Care Act that will sign up tens of millions of Americans for health insurance who will get needed checkups and procedures. Small companies will not be the primary payers of the tax, because the industry is dominated by a handful of major firms. An estimated 90 percent of the tax will be paid by the 10 biggest devicemakers.

Concerns about lost jobs and stymied innovation are the talking points of a wealthy industry trying to escape a tax. But after nine months with the tax in place, there is scant evidence it is preventing companies from bringing new products to market, triggering large layoffs (small job losses have been reported) or sending business operations overseas. Making sure the Affordable Care Act is paid for is a higher public interest than lawmakers protecting hometown businesses from fair taxation. The tax should stand, or a new tax source will have to be found to replace the revenue.

Comments
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18