Doug Hastings Quoted on Top Health Care Issues of 2009

BNA's Health Law Reporter

Doug Hastings, a Member of the Firm in the Washington, DC office, was quoted in BNA's Health Law Reporter, in an article entitled, "Health Care Reform Top Health Care Issue As Economy, New Leadership Drive Change."

Hastings said that for changes in the health care system to occur, "payers and providers will need to find ways to shift from their decade-long focus on conflict to a focus on collaboration and cooperation." He also noted that the U.S. has a mixed public/private health care system and that, "to be effective, it requires cooperation between those sectors and within them."

However, Hastings stressed that the federal government's large role in the health care system means that improvement of the quality and cost of health care, as well as broadening access to the system, will require the government to balance its roles as both purchaser and regulator. He referred to the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan as an "extremely important example."

Fixing the health care system will require policy, legislative, and regulatory changes and will generate important legal issues, as lawyers interpret new laws and find ways to structure transactions to capitalize on new opportunities, he said.

Hastings pointed out that government enforcement of the False Claims Act, the civil monetary penalties statutes, and others has a significant effect on the cost of care. "The federal government has a dual role as purchaser and regulator,'' he said. As purchaser, the goal is to pay less while as regulator the goal is to require more. As purchaser it wants to encourage financial incentives

to improve quality and reduce costs and help boost innovation and efficiency. But as regulator it often views incentives as suspect and possibly illegal, which can result in discouraging innovation and efficiency.

"My view is that to best achieve the goals of both higher quality and lower costs, regulatory enforcement in health care needs to shift its focus more to enhancing and supporting appropriate collaboration among providers and less to micromanaging the 'flow of funds,'" Hastings said.

Hastings has served as Chair of the Firm's Health Care and Life Sciences Practice and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors.