State remains strong in medical-gear field

By Priyanka Dayal McCluskey in the Boston Globe, May 6, 2015

The Massachusetts medical-device industry maintained its position as the second-biggest cluster in the country, even as it lost 5 percent of its workforce, according to a new report.

The state continued to add companies, attract venture capital funding, and increase exports, said the analysis from the trade group Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council…

The state had about 22,000 jobs in the industry in 2012, or 6 percent of the medical device jobs in the country, according to Census data used in the report.

Tom Sommer, president of the industry group, also known as MassMEDIC, blamed the job losses on a medical-device tax implemented as part of the federal health care overhaul and new health care payment models that encourage providers and insurers to cut costly treatments and procedures. The industry is lobbying Congress to repeal the tax.

The controversial tax didn’t take effect until 2013, but Sommer said it had a chilling effect on industry jobs even before then, and it continues to pose a challenge. Nationally, the industry lost about 3 percent of its jobs from 2008 to 2012, the report said.

“Over the years, we have learned that companies are reducing headcount or putting expansion plans on the shelf for a while,” Sommer said. “They are reducing research and development. They are seeking lower costs.”

Mergers, acquisitions, and outsourcing also are likely to have contributed to the loss of jobs, Sommer added.

Read the full story in The Boston Globe