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The Right to Repair movement stretches across nearly every industry. And in recent years, the medical field has seen significant legislation pushes attempting to broaden access to medical equipment to independent service providers. One of the principal legislative attempts to bring Right to Repair laws to the health industry was California’s Senate Bill 605. Below, we’ll explain what is SB 605, its potential impacts, and what happened to it.
Our coverage of Right to Repair measures extends past the medical field. For more looks into how the movement impacts specific companies, you can read our article explaining Tesla’s Right to Repair response. And we have similar articles covering Microsoft’s Right to Repair along with guides on the best computer repair kits.
You can go to your state’s legislative database to keep track of any Right to Repair bills that are up for debate.
Senate Bill 605 (or SB 605) was also known as the Medical Device Right to Repair Act. Before understanding what this bill entailed, it’s essential to understand the larger scope of the Right to Repair movement.
For a long time, major tech companies — from consumer electronics to agricultural products to medical technology — have made it harder for individuals and independent repair providers to fix or modify equipment. By restricting access to parts, refusing to issue service manuals, and purposefully designing complex equipment, companies rendered it almost impossible to work on without the right tools. Moreover, by limiting the number of authorized repair providers, companies could increase the additional cost of service.
In the 2021-2022 legislative session, SB 605 was introduced. The bill aimed to increase competition for repair by forcing medical companies to make information, parts, and repair tools for critical hospital equipment widely available.
The bill, introduced in California, addressed the need for critical repair materials during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. A handful of states followed, introducing similar legislation. But in the 2021-2022 session, none of the bills were ratified, with others being suspended.
For more information on consumer rights, visit our articles explaining things such as what is a manufacturer warranty. And for those looking to get into self-repair, check out our guide to the best smartphone repair kits.
The California State legislature has placed Senate Bill 605 on suspense file until further notice.
Many major medical companies lobbied against the bill, stating that such a bill as SB 605 posed dangers. Lobbyists claimed that supplying independent repair providers with confidential materials would impede federal oversight. In addition, they argued that more difficult oversight would lead to less accountability; and, ultimately, that public health would suffer as a result.
STAT: Although popular today, the Right to Repair movement began in the 1950s. (source)
If you find this interesting and want to know more about how special interest groups work to fight legislation, check out our article explaining what lobbying is.