April 1, 2019
To: Members of the Minnesota Senate
From: Americans for Tax Reform
Re: ATR Opposes Opioid Tax
I write on behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Minnesota to urge you to oppose the “Opioid Stewardship Advisory Council” and arbitrary fee on pharmaceutical distributors passed by the House in HF 400. These policies would drive up costs for patients in need of pain medication, while doing nothing to address the opioid crisis.
The opioid crisis is a tragic and difficult public health situation that impacts families across the United States, and understandably is drawing attention from lawmakers in Minnesota in search of solutions. However, the crisis cannot be taxed away, and an opioid tax could even make the crisis worse. Contrary to many claims, history has proven that punitive taxes do not curb addiction or abuse.
The fee is a tax because it raises revenue. It would hurt patients in need of medicine by driving up costs directly and causing supply problems that would further hike costs and create access issues.
Because the tax demands a set, arbitrary amount of revenue, once one company paying the fee decides it is not worth operating in Minnesota, there is a risk of a domino effect: one fee-paying company leaves, the remaining operators pay more, and have more reason to leave. Suppliers would be driven away.
It is not just those who are prescribed pain medicine who will pay, the costs from the tax and compliance will also be passed on to everyone in the state through higher insurance premiums. Also, hospitals would see higher costs, and taxpayers too, as public hospitals face added costs and the state pays more for Medical Assistance.
Most tragic, making legal opioid medication costlier could drive people addicted to opioids into the arms of the worst part of the crisis: illegal synthetic drugs. Deaths from black market fentanyl, largely from China, and Mexican cartels, spiked to 5,000 in 2014 and rocketed to over 26,000 in 2017, according to Bloomberg News. It is illicit fentanyl that is the greatest risk from the opioid crisis now, as new CDC data show.
ATR strongly urges you to oppose a stewardship tax. Taxing people who need medicine – instead of focusing on illicit fentanyl – would only add to the tragedy.
President, Americans for Tax Reform