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Tech tax could weigh on effort to cut health care costs

In “Tech firms learning a hard lesson as new sales tax takes effect” (Money & Careers, Aug. 4) Scott Kirsner rightly points out the potential damage the Legislature’s new software tax could have on the innovation economy.

What is not mentioned is the irony that the new tax will likely increase health care costs by affecting the expense associated with the creation and sale of electronic health record software at the very time when the state is pushing hard to see health care providers reduce costs and improve patient care.

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Compounding the irony of the Legislature’s decision is the fact that the federal government has recently spent $6.3 billion of taxpayer money to give health care providers incentives to adopt electronic health records through the program of meaningful-use standards.

There’s no doubt our bridges and roads are in terrible shape, and the Legislature is right to seek money to repair them, but it should not do so in a way that conflicts with its other, equally important goals.

Massachusetts, of all states, should be leading the charge in health care innovation, not unintentionally hindering it. At the very least, electronic health records or any other software that has the potential to help reduce medical costs should be exempt from this new tax, at least for the near term.

David Mancuso


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