Buckle your seat belts. 2017 promises to provide a roller-coaster ride on the health law front. President-Elect Trump vowed to repeal “Obamacare” on Day 1 of his presidency. Leaders of both houses of Congress support the repeal and promised to “replace” to assure the millions of Americans who purchased insurance through the exchanges an opportunity to continue to have health insurance. Providers and payors alike are concerned about the uncertainty. What form will “replace” take? How will it affect providers, payors, and consumers?

Of course, the ACA is just one of many potential changes in health law we may see in 2017 and beyond.

How should health lawyers guide their clients through the hurdles ahead?

Know your clients’ needs. What are the important points of the ACA that are vital to your clients’ delivery of services? Is it reimbursement? Is it point of service? Is it access to care? Is it payment of services by Medicare, Medicaid, Tri-Care, private insurance or private pay? What are the important points of the ACA that have provided hindrances to your clients’ delivery of services? What provisions in the law or regulations concern your clients? What provisions in the law or regulations are vital to your clients’ continued viability?

Stay tuned to changes and potential changes. The Health Law Section is committed to watching and reporting changes that affect healthcare providers, payors and recipients of care. Watch for alerts in the Section’s weekly publication HLBytes and our monthly publication The ABA HealtheSource for the latest developments. Our Health Law and Policy Coordination Committee, co-chaired by Joe Geraci and Linda Malek, is organized to review and comment on potential laws and regulations as quickly as possible. Contact members of the Committee or your Interest Group for the latest updates or questions that are of interest to you or your clients.

Attend EMI. The Section’s premier live program, Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law, promises to provide all of the latest information needed by health lawyers to navigate the coming year. Join us in New Orleans March 8-11 as the EMI committee, co-chaired by Diane Carter and Jay McEniry, presents a stellar conference complete with government panels discussing the transition, reimbursement panels discussing MACRA and MIPS, an anti-trust panel discussing trends in enforcement, and much more. View the brochure and register here: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/healthlaw/aba_emi_final_brochure.authcheckdam.pdf

First time attendees receive an incredible discount on registration, and the conference is being held in the beautiful, historic Roosevelt Hotel. There is no substitute for live interaction with other healthcare lawyers and an opportunity to discuss the impending changes with those similarly situated.

Encourage your clients to contact their congressmen and women. The health law staffers of each member of Congress are eager to hear from their constituents regarding the laws and regulations that are affecting the ability to provide healthcare services to the voters in their district. Often healthcare providers and insurers are among the largest employers in a congressman’s district, so keeping those jobs in the area are important to the welfare of the district from an economic standpoint as well as a health standpoint. Access to healthcare is important in every community. The stability of rural healthcare providers is important in many communities across the country. Let your clients’ voices be heard in Congress.

Don’t Panic. Change is often known as the six letter curse word. It can be, but doesn’t have to catch you off guard if you stay tuned to the latest developments. The Section is committed to helping you navigate the waters ahead. Let us hear from you if you aren’t receiving the information you need to assist your clients. The Section is organized into Interest Groups led by lawyers who are the best in their fields. If there is a topic of interest to you or your clients, let us know. We may be able to turn it into a member benefit webinar or open forum discussion for the Interest Group members.
Will the ACA stay, go or change form and name? And what else will happen in health care? Stay tuned.

C. Joyce Hall, Chair

Mississippi Trivia: The origin of the Teddy Bear can be traced to a 1902 hunting trip in Onward, Mississippi by then President Theodore Roosevelt. Following three fruitless days of hunting for bears in Mississippi, the members of the President’s hunting party decided to help the President by tying an old, injured bear to a tree. The President, seeing that the bear was old and injured, refused to shoot. News of the incident reached the media and cartoonists had a hey-day with the material. Soon a Brooklyn, NY shop owner asked the President’s permission to sell toy bears made by the shop-owner’s wife and name them “Teddy’s Bears.” Needless to say, the novelty items were big hits and remain so today.