By Julie Appleby
WARSAW, Ind. – Tom Till eyes the morning’s email to see who’s angling to hire his students: A local employer, which had already hired 23 people in less than a year, says it needs three more to help make the artificial hips, knees and other devices manufactured here in the self-proclaimed “Orthopedic Capital of the World.”
“Everyone is going gangbusters,” said Till, who oversees an advanced manufacturing program at Ivy Tech Community College in this lake-dotted region two hours north of Indianapolis.
Till’s bullish view of the medical device industry – he says he can’t crank out graduates fast enough — contrasts sharply with what industry lobbyists are telling lawmakers in the nation’s capital. They say a 2.3 percent tax on the sale of medical devices put in place two years ago by the Affordable Care Act has already cost more than 30,000 jobs and is stifling innovation.
The tax, projected to bring in $29 billion over 10 years, is the industry’s share of the cost of expanding health coverage to millions of Americans. Other industries expected to gain business from the health law, including hospitals, insurers and drug makers, are also paying a share of its costs, but none has been as vocal in opposition as the device makers, which have poured $30 million a year into lobbying Congress since 2010. Continue reading