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Johnson & Johnson CEO discusses stance on looming tax, healthcare reforms

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky spelled out the company's position on the corporate tax and healthcare reforms being discussed in Washington during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call.

Gorsky was one of the 12 business leaders to meet President Donald Trump at a Jan. 23 breakfast meeting at the White House, where business taxation was among issues that were discussed.

"We are very encouraged by the proposals currently in discussion and will support business tax policy that is competitive with most developed countries and supports innovation and growth. This includes a system based on territorial taxation in line, with most economically developed nations," the CEO said.

In addition, the company believes that incentives should be offered for innovation, such as in R&D, and that a more competitive tax rate on repatriation of money back into the U.S. is needed, according to Gorsky.

The executive also laid out the company's stance on healthcare reform.

"First, we are advocating for important elements like increased access, coverage of pre-existing conditions and coverage of young people on their parent's health plan to continue in the future. Second, we believe that any ACA replacement must support a competitive market for individual health insurance. We will continue to advocate for models that encourage innovation and value, continuing the move towards value-based care and payment for improved patient outcomes. Finally, we support reforms that emphasize wellness in intercepting disease before it happens," he said.

CFO Dominic Caruso said Johnson & Johnson is not expected to be affected by a repeal of the Affordable Care Act because its implementation did not affect the company's finances, "so therefore, any change going in the opposite direction, we do not think will be negative."

The company, however, did see an impact in terms of the costs associated with the ACA and incurred about $1.4 billion between the pharmaceutical fee and increased rebates, even excluding the currently postponed medical device tax, Caruso said. He added that the company will see whether these fees and costs remain or become altered in a new legislation, noting that they have already been incorporated in the business and the company has adjusted its cost structure accordingly.