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Paul Greenberg: Obamacare strikes again

BY PAUL GREENBERG Published: January 23, 2013

This new tax on medical devices, which took effect as of the first of the year, is one of the endless provisions of the ironically titled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Like so many of its other taxes, regulations and/or restrictions, this one isn't likely to protect patients or make medical care any more affordable.

Quite the contrary. Because it's a sure way to drive up the cost of everything in health care from artificial joints to kits that test blood-sugar.

The only discernible effect of this new tax on medical devices, as with so many new taxes, will be to increase their price and decrease their availability. By 2.3 percent. At least. So much for affordable care and patient protection. This administration seems to know as much about economics as it does about medicine — just enough to be dangerous. There's nothing wrong with Obama's imagination; it's his connection to economic reality that seems tenuous at best.

It's enough to make a body wonder if the masterminds who dreamed up this tax on medical devices have ever practiced medicine themselves, or started a company, or thought through these brainstorms before enacting them into law. The one law sure to apply in the case of this new tax is the law of unintended consequences, aka Murphy's law. (“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”)

The case for this latest tax on health care is another triumph of creative accounting, and another defeat for common sense. Since so much of Obamacare's small print has yet to be revealed, or even written, there's no telling how many more taxes, regulations and penalties are in the works. Oh, joy. Nancy Pelosi did say we'd have to pass Obamacare before finding out what all is in it, and, boy, are we. Tax after tax after tax.