Gov. Tim Pawlenty sent a letter on Monday to Minnesota's senators warning that a proposed tax could put a key partnership between Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota "in jeopardy."
In the letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken, both Democrats, the Republican governor voiced opposition to a $40 billion tax on the medical device industry included in the Senate Finance Committee's health care reform proposal. Pawlenty concludes that the tax would threaten the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics.
He wrote: "During the past six years, the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic have initiated a bio-science initiative backed by tens of millions of state dollars. The more than 1,400 expected jobs involved in this effort and Minnesota's leadership in this area are now in jeopardy."
Mayo Clinic spokesman Bob Nellis said the clinic does not have a position on the tax proposal and generally does not take positions in these sorts of matters. Nellis estimates that since the partnership was announced in 2003, it has received more than $80 million in direct and leveraged state funding. He added that the 1,400 jobs referenced by Pawlenty are an estimate of jobs created directly and indirectly by the partnership over the next 10 to 20 years.
In the letter, Pawlenty also argues that the tax would hurt the state's medical device makers, including Medtronic, Boston Scientific, 3M and St. Jude. He adds that the tax would not only apply for pacemakers and heart valves but to 80,000 other products, including wheelchairs, thermometers and diagnostic imaging equipment.
Pawlenty writes, "Taxes on these items would increase health care costs for families, businesses and government."
Post-Bulletin by Heather Carlson, 09/15/09