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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Kirk Nahra Quoted Extensively on Top 2016 Health Law Regulatory Issues

Bloomberg BNA’s Health Law Reporter
January 15, 2016

Kirk J. Nahra, chair of Wiley Rein’s Privacy Practice and co-chair of the Health Care Practice, was quoted extensively in a January 6 Bloomberg BNA article outlining this year’s top health regulatory issues for 2016. 

Hospital/physician alignments and other transactions, such as health-system consolidations and mergers and acquisitions landed the top spot among health care issues for 2016. Many health care systems are finding themselves having regulatory issues when attempting to consolidate. “Consolidation in virtually every segment of the health care industry is growing,” said Mr. Nahra. Realistically the country may be left with “only a small number of competitors in many major market segments” and the government will be “faced with substantial challenges on how to handle this growing concentration in many of these key markets,” he said.

Health information and technology was number three on BNA’s 2016 list of top issues, because of emerging new media and the increasing threats of health care data breaches. The topic of health information and technology “encompasses many different and somewhat unconnected topics, each important in its own right,” Mr. Nahra said. The health care industry is finding “all kinds of new data that can be useful, but the legal/regulatory structure simply is not keeping up at this point,” he added.

The “overall issue in 2016 will be what the rules are for this new data, aside from legal and regulatory concerns,” said Mr. Nahra. Nearly every company that deals with health care information “will need to develop an appropriate data strategy that balances business and health care opportunities with the evolving legal and regulatory structure,” he pointed out.

Mr. Nahra weighed in on data breaches saying, “cyber is a confusing and overly dramatic buzzword, but it is clear the health care industry faces major threats to its systems and operations, relating to both the protection of personal data and the safe and efficient operation of the health care system.” A cybersecurity law recently passed by the Senate carves out the health care industry for “special attention,” he said.  

Lastly, Mr. Nahra discussed health plan regulation hurdles, specifically the policy changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Health plans are facing enormous challenges,” he said, which include data issues, cybersecurity risks and antitrust concerns. “Expect to see lots of change in the business environment for health plans over the next few years, with the need for government regulators to stay on top of these developments while not unduly impeding them,” Mr. Nahra said.

Mr. Nahra also expressed amazement at “how many legal challenges remain to key portions of Obamacare.” This “results in ongoing disruption of the reform program, nitpicking at the edges that reduce the effectiveness of the programs—making it less likely that the overall package will ‘work’—and uncertainty and confusion with each major challenge. The apparent failure of so many of the exchange co-ops and similar off-shoots is also creating a lot of new concern,” Mr. Nahra said. “All of this uncertainty and confusion is not good for any element of the health care system,” he concluded.