Broken Ventilators Add Momentum to ‘Right to Repair’ Movement

As excerpted from Bloomberg News.

That wasted time and expense could have been avoided if hospitals had been allowed to mend more equipment from the get-go, he says. A bill advancing in the California legislature would make that possible: Sponsored by the California Public Interest Research Group and supported by the California Hospital Association, among other groups, it would require medical manufacturers to publish manuals and make parts and training accessible to hospitals and third-party repair providers. If it passes, it would be the first law passed by a state legislature in almost a decade to promote what’s known as the “right to repair”—a broader consumer protection issue that touches many of the increasingly complicated devices that power 21st century life.

This year at least 27 state legislatures have considered bills tackling who gets to fix everything from tractors to powered wheelchairs to iPhones. While the issue has gained attention in recent years through consumer tech battles involving such companies as Apple, John Deere, and Tesla, the pandemic’s spotlight on ventilator shortages gave a boost to the biomedical side of the story. In addition to California, lawmakers in Arkansas, Hawaii, and Texas, a group of 10 state treasurers and auditors, and members of Congress have taken aim at cutting costs and delays in the health-care system that advocates say stem from proprietary repair requirements.

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