Jackie Selby, Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Bloomberg Law, in “Behavioral Health Practices ‘Poised to Explode’ at Law Firms,” by Melissa Heelan Stanzione.
Following is an excerpt:
Law firms are adding resources and even entire practice groups to handle behavioral health, an area of the law that has grown due to increasing urgency around drug addiction and mental health in the U.S. and legislation that has followed those developments.
Behavioral health law is a very specialized area that’s in its “relative infancy,” but is “poised to explode,” one practitioner told Bloomberg Law.
Behavioral health practices cover issues like substance use disorders and mental health. Their clients are typically insurers and healthcare service providers, as well as investors in businesses that assist those who suffer from mental illness and addiction. …
One major factor behind the growth of behavioral health is the growing epidemic of addiction in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths involving opioids were six times higher in 2017 than they were in 1999.
Addiction along with growing awareness around other mental health issues has spurred recent legislation that in turn creates more work for lawyers with these specific healthcare specialties, attorneys say.
These include amendments to the Mental Health Parity Act and passage of the Comprehensive Opioid Legislation, Jackie Selby, a behavioral health practitioner at Epstein Becker Green, which created a practice group in this area about three years ago, told Bloomberg Law.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health insurers and group health plans to provide the same level of benefits for mental and substance use treatment and services that they do for medical and surgical care.
The opioid legislation, also known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which was signed into law in October 2018, includes an expansion of Medicare coverage for services rendered at opioid treatment programs and for medication assisted treatment at these programs. It also makes more funds available to promote telehealth technology, which involves dispensing information and treatment for mental or substance use disorders over the phone or internet.
Because of more Medicare and Medicaid coverage and broader funding for behavioral health, providers, insurers, and investors are eager to stake a claim in the industry—with attorneys’ help.
One relevant area is data privacy. Providers need counsel on how to handle patient data while still remaining in compliance with federal confidentiality laws for substance use disorders, which haven’t been updated in a while and don’t exactly align with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Selby said. …
Attorneys well-suited to this kind of work have some regulatory background; experience in the industry; and need an entrepreneurial mindset because the industry’s changing so much, said Selby.