By Terry Baynes
Feb 25 (Reuters) - Law firm McDermott Will & Emery, with one
of the largest healthcare teams in the country, has been
expanding the practice area over the last two months, adding
eight lawyers or professionals, according to Stephen Bernstein,
who heads the firm's health industry advisory practice group.
The latest hire, announced by the firm last week, is Clare
Ranalli, a health regulatory partner from Holland & Knight who
has expertise in "certificates of need," the legal clearance
that many states require when healthcare providers seek to
expand their facilities, purchase major technologies or merge
with other entities.
The ramping up of the healthcare practice to approximately
90 lawyers is a reflection of the work the firm is fielding as a
result of the Affordable Care Act, said Bernstein.
He said the firm is looking to add more lawyers with food
and drug expertise and others focused on government programs and
managed care to advise clients seeking to reduce costs and
achieve other goals of the new law.
For example, since the law encourages providers to place
more of a focus on primary care, hospitals increasingly are
partnering with community-based providers that use a primary
care model, Ranalli said.
That in turn has created more demand for specialization in
certificates of need, Ranalli said.
Legal services are also required for clients seeking to
comply with complicated new regulations the government has been
releasing weekly which affect the healthcare industry's
dynamics. Main areas of concern for clients include the medical
loss ratio regulations, which require insurers to spent a
certain percentage of health insurance premiums on medical care
and improving healthcare quality, Bernstein said.
New rules governing what essential health benefits insurers
must provide as well as patient privacy protections are also
driving the demand for legal services, he added.
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