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Strides in the Right-to-Repair Legislation in New York

The New York Senate became the first legislative body in the US to pass electronics right-to-repair legislation that will make it easier to fix your electronic devices – a huge accomplishment for the nationwide right-to-repair movement.

Exciting momentum surrounding the national efforts to improve access to repair resources outside of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); the New York state senate has passed a bill titled the Digital Fair Repair Act that is designed to protect consumers from monopolistic practices of manufacturers. Not only would a law like this allow for faster repairs to electronic devices such as computers, laptops, and phones, but it would also protect against inflated or costly manufacturer-set repair prices which could ultimately lower the amount of electronic device waste that we see. More resources for repairs mean less dumping of devices that previously couldn’t be fixed due to the financial constraints on individuals or companies.

Strength in Simplicity

According to a recent article provided by VICE, one of the biggest strengths of this legislation is its simplicity; the language chosen to outline the legislatives’ requests is simple, clear, and direct. Not only does it request that the owner of the electronic device or equipment be allowed access to the necessary means to complete repairs, but it also asks that independent repair service providers be given access to the same.

 “Requires OEMs to make available, for purposes of diagnosis, maintenance, or repair, to any independent repair provider, or to the owner of digital electronic equipment manufactured by or on behalf of, or sold by, the OEM, on fair and reasonable terms, documentation, parts, and tools, inclusive of any updates to information or embedded software.”

So what does this mean for the healthcare industry? Well, for starters, it is a small but mighty step in the right direction for medical devices to soon gain the same access as electronic devices and equipment. New York is the first state out of many that are pushing for legislation that provides protection from manufacturer’s repair monopolies.

The Right-to-Repair Act has been an active movement in healthcare for years, recently gaining national traction during the COVID-19 pandemic; healthcare providers and independent service providers (like the InterMed Group) have witnessed firsthand the impact of current limitations set forth by OEMs have on repairing live-saving medical equipment. Throughout 2020, the need for speedy repairs to critical medical devices was brought to the forefront of the pandemic; hospitals were facing overwhelming shortages of important medical devices such as ventilators and simply could not afford to have any of their limited supply be moved out of service.

The response time to fix out-of-service equipment by OEMs was even more pronounced during the heightened demand caused by the overwhelm of the pandemic. Supporters of the medical device and equipment right-to-repair act argue that when consumers have easily accessible repair options, such as independent service and repair providers, downtime is drastically reduced – which means more patients can receive the care and support they rely on with this equipment.

There is still a ways to go, but lobbyists and ISOs are remaining optimistic.

“Beyond that, repair can teach students technology skills, inspire careers and help build a local repair economy on Main Street. We keep getting closer, and eventually, we will win. While the passage of this bill is a big step in the right direction, we aren’t going to stop until people have the laws they need to fix their stuff.” – Nathan Proctor, U.S. PIRG’s right-to-repair Campaign Director via VICE.

For more information: the Right-to-Repair Act, including the Alliance for Quality Medical Device Servicing, and the latest FTC rulings.