Lynn Shapiro Snyder, a Senior Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices in the Washington, DC, office, was featured in a Q&A on health care reform and its implications for vendors, consumers and investors. (Click here to download the article in PDF format.)

Following is an excerpt:

As I travel around the country talking to companies in the health care space about health care reform, it's amazing how often it means different things to different people. So to start, I think we need to make sure we all understand what we're talking about in this legislation. Typically people think of health care reform only in terms of the private health insurance market, and new people getting into the individual and group insurance markets. Medicare, among other parts of this reform, gets short shrift. There are many other things in here being rolled out under the banner of 'health reform'.

The most obvious is health insurance. But there are other important pieces, such as sections titled The Prevention of Chronic Illness and Improving Public Health. There's a whole chapter in the legislation designed to make it easier for us to stay healthy and not get sick in the first place by eliminating copays and deductibles for preventive services. Another section is titled The Health Care Workforce, which addresses shortages in the primary-care area. That involves educational facilities—including some for profit schools, as well as non-profit schools—and getting the right people trained.

There's also a separate title on Transparency and Program Integrity. There will be more health care fraud enforcement, but there's also going to be more transparency, so that consumers can look at who owns various hospitals and nursing facilities. There is a section on Innovative Therapies, which covers a regulatory pathway involving 'biosimilars' and previously licensed biological products to try and get those to a point of becoming more cost-effective. Additionally, for people with severe disabilities who voluntarily remain in their homes or communities and are self-funded, there is a cash benefit initiative. It's quite controversial, and we'll see if it gets off the ground. There are also a number of revenue enhancers, to raise money to pay for all this health insurance reform.

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