Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Affordable Care Act Sparks Legal Hiring Boom

Spiking demand for healthcare attorneys is bringing welcome news to a legal market struggling with increasingly cost-consciousness clients in other sectors.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Wanted: Health-Care Legal Experts,” corporate clients spent $5.72 billion on legal advice for regulatory matters, including health care, in 2012. That number is expected to increase to $6 billion this year. Highlights of this article appear below.

Millions of Americans are expected to sign up for health insurance when the Affordable Care Act takes effect in January, 2014, some perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Many complex regulations and industry-specific provisions, all imposing compliance requirements on companies of all types and sizes, are included in the Act. As a result, many companies are seeking experienced healthcare lawyers to help them understand the implications of the impending regulations.

Several existing healthcare laws have been revised, and many new ones have been drafted, contributing to a confusing network of legal complexities. For instance:
  • An existing law intended to reduce conflicts of interest during patient service referrals for services such as x-rays has made it trickier for hospitals to structure contracts or acquire doctor groups
  • A new rule mandates the disclosure of financial ties between health-care providers and companies that make drugs and medical devices
Lawyers with the ability to clarify the technicalities of this legislation will find themselves very busy both before and after the Act is put into effect. Specifically, lawyers with expertise in the following areas are expected to be in demand:
  • Health-care fraud
  • Hospital mergers
  • Medical technology investments
  • Medicare audits
  • Reimbursement disputes
Many major law firms contain substantial healthcare practices, but more often than not, cost-conscious clients bring their legal work to smaller and more affordable firms. One healthcare attorney is quoted as saying, “The more they tinker with the federal regulations, the more work we have.”

In addition to changes in medical practices and insurance coverage, the organization and payment of healthcare is also being reformed with the Affordable Care Act. In an attempt to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, many new healthcare delivery models are being tested, and could possibly replace the traditional fee-for-service approach.

The Affordable Care Act has been described as an extremely complex piece of legislation. This is likely to be good news for healthcare attorneys, who will find a steady supply of clients in need of immediate legal assistance.

No comments: