The hunt for the medical device sector’s next Scott Brown may focus on Indiana.
Some medical device executives put in a call to newly elected Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly as soon as it became clear he would defeat Republican Richard Mourdock. They didn’t get through, but this will be what they plan to ask him: Be the Democratic sponsor of a Senate bill to repeal the medical device tax.
Donnelly’s a solid nominee to pick up the mantle for the medical device industry in the Senate. Indiana has a strong orthopedics sector and is home to Cook Medical, the most aggressive enemy of the device tax. Plus, Donnelly voted for the repeal of the tax while he was in the House of Representatives and pushed for faster approvals of medical devices through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
And – most palatable – Donnelly is a Democrat who could back an issue largely driven by Republican anti-Obamacare momentum. Those campaigning against the medical device tax think they have more Democratic momentum against the tax than they previously thought. Word is now that there are 13 Democratic Senators ready to vote against the device tax – and that was ahead of Donnelly’s election.
There is a problem with that theory, though. New Senators don’t carry the most clout in the world. And there are other allies worth cultivating.
Why not Brown’s replacement: Elizabeth Warren? She’s also an option. Warren came out against the medical device tax and industry leaders are optimistic about her leadership role in the sector. But others are simply skeptical of the way Warren said she’d support repeal of the device tax. “You had to drag it out of her,” one of the industry’s device tax foes told me.
Some medical device executives will join the Medical Device Manufacturers Association in Washington next week to lobby for the sector’s interests.