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Kirk Nahra Discusses Top Health Care Industry Issues for 2018

Bloomberg BNA’s Health Law Reporter
January 5, 2018

Kirk J. Nahra, chair of Wiley Rein’s Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice, was quoted extensively by Bloomberg BNA’s Health Law Reporter in a January 4 article about the top health care policy, regulatory, and business issues for 2018. Mr. Nahra is among members of the publication’s advisory board who outlined the most pressing issues health care lawyers will face in the coming year.

Attorneys in the health sector are being forced to become fortune tellers, thoughtful business strategists, ethicists, and operational advisers, Mr. Nahra said. While being asked to advise on things that aren’t really legal issues may be part of the evolution of the legal profession generally, it seems that health care lawyers are at the forefront of the trend, he said.

One top issue is health information technology, which encompasses a broad range of activity in the health care space, according to Mr. Nahra. “While originally a niche practice, these kinds of data management, data analytics and technology issues now arise virtually everywhere in the health care field, and in a very broadly defined health care field,” he said.

Mr. Nahra also noted that HIPAA requirements and cybersecurity statutes and regulations provide a complex web of rules that are essential for a health lawyer in 2018 to understand. “The best lawyers in this area – and the most successful companies – will need to have a practical and detailed knowledge of this confusing legal structure, and be able to navigate an increasingly complicated business environment in the context of an uncertain regulatory and enforcement structure where there are increasingly broad gaps,” he said.

Another top issue for 2018, according to the article, is the regulatory uncertainty affecting every segment of the health care industry. According to the article, Trump Administration proposals – such as allowing insurers to sell products across state lines and narrowing Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage mandates – will require state action, meaning attorneys must be familiar with regulations in multiple states.

The health care industry “will face enormous challenges in 2018 to stay on top of these developments and navigate the ongoing challenges of remaining viable and successful businesses while still maintaining some kind of public trust,” Mr. Nahra said. He added that there is “an enormous need for planning, strategic guidance, risk management, and even a broad role in public relations” facing lawyers in the coming year.

Meanwhile, corporate governance attorneys in the health care sector “will need to prompt and guide” the discussion that will follow from the overall uncertainty facing the industry in 2018, Mr. Nahra said. He explained that company boards must be attuned to “the full array of issues that must be managed to remain a successful company.”

Companies will also need board members and a leadership structure capable of “promptly, thoughtfully, and creatively dealing with constant turmoil, ongoing technological change, a regulatory and enforcement environment with tremendous uncertainty, and the need for advice and guidance in growing areas where regulation is largely absent,” Mr. Nahra said.