Business Leaders Talk Trump’s Impact on Visas, Drug Pricing, Insurance

Perhaps you’ve heard about the inauguration of one Donald J. Trump. Xconomy has been asking prominent members of the national innovation community for their thoughts on the incoming administration and its potential impact on their companies and industries.

Here are responses from four business leaders in different cities across Xconomy’s network.

Alex Lash, our national biotech editor, traded e-mails with Bob Nelsen, co-founder and managing director at Arch Venture Partners. (Nelsen is based in Seattle). Here’s an excerpt of their Q&A:

—What is your biggest healthcare-related fear for 2017?

Bob Nelsen

Nelsen: Biggest fear is accidental harm to innovation by broad-brush drug pricing legislation that slows down the most curative and impactful wave of technology breakthroughs in the history of medicine.

—How much should the Trump administration pare back the FDA’s regulatory power?

Nelsen: I think the FDA needs a re-focusing on how they can push innovation forward to benefit patients, and Trump’s pick will likely ask the hard questions.

Bernadette Tansey, Xconomy’s San Francisco editor, reached out to Gary Griffiths, CEO of Redwood Shores, CA-based iPass. His company (NASDAQ: IPAS) provides global, mobile Wi-Fi connectivity.

Gary Griffiths

Tansey asked: “What possible actions by the new administration could significantly affect your company, your industry, and/or the health of the business environment, for better or worse? How?”

In his response, Griffiths said immigration is one policy area he will be watching:

“Despite protectionist views on immigration, President Trump is not about to cut off the flow of H-1B talent that is fueling our nation’s top driver of economic growth. And even if, in the short term, there are tighter restrictions on H-1Bs, most Silicon Valley firms (iPass including) have hedged their bets, by establishing software development operations in India, China, Eastern Europe, and other hotbeds of programming talent.”

David Holley, Xconomy’s national correspondent (based in Texas), posed the same broad question to Morris Miller, CEO of Xenex Disinfection Services, a San Antonio, TX-based company that uses robotics technology to clean hospitals. Miller zeroed in on health insurance legislation, which could clearly affect his company:

Morris Miller

“Hospitals are the primary purchasers of our LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot.

“The new administration has promised to repeal or make significant changes to Obamacare. Legislative changes create potential uncertainty for insurance providers and for hospitals who rely on those insurers for payments for services rendered. In the short run this could tighten hospital capital spending on life-saving technology like our robots, while they wait to see the full impact of legislative changes.

“However, the reexamination of legislation and its goals could mean a new opportunity for Congress to pass legislation that would force hospitals to address the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant organisms (“superbugs”) and the needless infections that they cause. Emerging pathogens like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or CRE (Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) and known superbugs like MRSA, VRE, and C. diff. can be stopped if hospitals would properly disinfect patient rooms and operating rooms. Creating reimbursable categories whereby hospitals are rewarded for prevention instead of treatment can have a beneficial effect on patient outcomes. Potentially simple legislative changes for technologies like LightStrike Robots that have proven to reduce infections by 50 percent to 100 percent could help hospitals’ bottom lines and dramatically improve patient outcomes while stopping the creation of new superbugs.”

And Jeff Engel, Xconomy senior editor, reached out to Ted Coons, general partner at Technology Crossover Ventures (he’s based in New York), with the same question. Coons responded more broadly about the U.S. climate for entrepreneurship:

Ted Coons

“Our country has a long-standing tradition and culture of entrepreneurship. And as growth equity investors, we believe we’ve always contributed to job creation by investing in forward-thinking companies and helping them grow and succeed.

“From the start, a fundamental part of TCV’s investment strategy and methodology has been to invest in businesses across the US. If we believe we can contribute to a company’s success, that’s going to continue regardless of the administration in Washington.

“We don’t believe regulation has caused VC-backed companies to stay private longer. We think the primary factor has been that with so much money in private markets, many companies have chosen to avoid the potential headaches of going public until they want or have to. And second, quite a few companies raised private money at such high valuations in 2014 and 2015 that they need more time to grow to justify those valuations in the public market.

“We are in favor of an environment that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. Preserving the nationwide entrepreneurial culture that is instrumental to expanded economic opportunity in the United States. This includes tax policies that foster new company formation; making capital markets work for small-cap companies and encouraging access to talent.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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