Masimo founder and CEO Joe Kiani had some stark words for the New York Times this week, responding to articles that painted his discussions with the White House and donations to President Barack Obama’s campaign as attempts to lobby against a 2.3% tax on the med-tech industry.
Kiani insisted that his discussions with White House officials were part of the "bigger picture," entailing meetings aimed at eliminating waste in health care spending, creating jobs and making the U.S. attractive to international companies.
"I have some expertise in these issues, having founded Masimo, now a $450 million company employing 2,500 people, 23 years ago," he wrote.
In an article and an editorial published this month, Kiani was invoked as an example of how "exclusive White House events have long been a reward to big contributors" and "it’s the biggest givers who find the White House doors smoothly swinging open."
"Joe E. Kiani, who heads a medical device company, Masimo Corporation, stepped up his giving to Democrats last year as medical device makers campaigned unsuccessfully for the repeal of an excise tax imposed on the industry," according to the article published April 14. "Mr. Kiani had several meetings with White House officials last year, including 2 with lobbyists from his company and another with representatives from his industry’s trade association. In the midst of these gatherings, he donated $35,800 to the victory fund."
"The implication is that as the chief executive of Masimo, a medical device company, I sought pay-for-play access and that my visits were intended to derail the excise tax, slated to go into effect next year," Kiani responded in a letter to the editor published yesterday. "Yet I wasn’t at the White House to attack the tax."
"Innuendo will not dissuade me from getting involved in our democracy," he added.
Correction, April 27, 6:45 p.m.: This article mistakenly suggested that the New York Times depiction of Kiani’s lobbying included discussions with legislators. The paper’s depictions dealt solely with Kiani’s interactions with the White House.