Medical-Supplies Companies Object To Proposed New Tariffs

U.S. trade representative hearings bring out hundreds of opponents but also some supporters before July 2 deadline

By Katy Stech Ferek | The Wall Street Journal
June 26, 2019 9:08 am ET

Featured The Wall Street Journal article spotlights how medical supply companies are among the healthcare sectors being impacted by tariffs. The article looks at both sides of the issue and includes a quote from HIDA President and CEO Matthew Rowan. HIDA testified before the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office about effects of the proposed new tariffs. View the article through links below (WSJ subscription needed), or contact for further information, or for resources.

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Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal:

Trade officials have left the pharmaceutical industry and other pockets within the health-care sector out of the trade conflict, but dozens of medical supplies—tongue depressors, exam gloves, surgical gowns and the like— used in everyday patient encounters are among the $300 billion in Chinese imports facing 25% tariffs under the Trump administration’s latest proposal.

“Tariffs on these goods would raise costs substantially to health-care providers, putting further pressure on struggling hospitals and nursing homes,” said Matthew Rowan, president of the Health Industry Distributors Association.

“Health-care products are essential to the nation’s pandemic- and emergency-readiness capabilities,” Mr. Rowan said. “The risks to health care and public health from tariffs outweigh any benefit to trade or economics.”

Matthew J. Rowan, President and CEO, HIDA

Medline Industries, Inc., a HIDA member, was also quoted, among other affected suppliers, health systems, and associations. Medline Group President Jim Pigott's comment further highlights the extreme pressure increased tariffs will put on broad segments of the industry.

The Wall Street Journal continues:

Medline Industries Inc., which records more than $12 billion in revenue with its sales of more than 200,000 types of medical-supply products, imports more than four billion exam gloves and more than 130 million isolation gowns a year. The proposed tariffs on gowns, surgical drapes and exam gloves alone would increase costs by nearly $60 million a year, it said.

The cost increases will be tough for his clients, Mr. Pigott said.

“Hospitals operate on very thin margins,” he said. “For nursing homes, the margins are even more thin.”


Learn more about the tariffs affecting our industry and how you can help on HIDA's issue page.

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