While the German press discusses the US healthcare system and President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform on a regular basis, there hasn’t really been any discussion about the impending medical device tax, a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices that is part of the reform. Following Obama’s State of the Union speech, during which he announced that he wants to bring manufacturing jobs back to US shores, one of Germany’s major daily newspapers, the center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), wrote: "The idea of imposing a minimum tax on multinational companies also reflects an unhealthy distrust toward tax competition and the international allocation of labor. Obama loves to come across as a supporter of the market economy. But, instead, he is still playing the role of the helmsman who must steer the market. With minimum taxes and increased industry control, he will not win back manufacturing jobs for America."
While Obama called for lowering manufacturing taxes, he did not mention the looming medical device tax in his speech. Germany is the third biggest medical technology products producer and medical services provider in the world, exporting roughly 66% of its products. North America happens to be the sector’s second most important export region, with a share of approximately 20%. That begs the question whether German companies are prepared for the medical device tax. After all, the tax would impact not only US companies but also companies from overseas selling medical devices to US end-users.
Republicans of course want to have the tax repealed, so maybe that’s what German medtech companies are hoping for? At this point, German medical device manufacturers don’t seem particularly concerned about the excise tax. No doubt, the upcoming election will have a significant impact not only on the medical device industry in the United States, but also on the industry globally.
So, considering that Germany is the number one export nation, I would like to see German medtech companies and industry associations start the discussion and voice their opinion on this all-important subject.
— Yvonne Klöpping, Associate Editor, EMDT