Healthcare Law: the inside view from the experts at Waller
Home to nearly 20 publicly traded healthcare companies, many of the nation’s largest privately owned healthcare entities, and several of the most successful healthcare start-ups, Nashville is the healthcare capital of the nation. Based in Nashville, Waller has several decades of experience providing pragmatic, trusted advice to leading healthcare organizations, and the firm’s expertise spans virtually every segment of the healthcare industry.
Over the last 50 years, Waller has played a key role in shaping the healthcare industry and contributing to the success of our clients. We have developed a cross-disciplinary, collaborative environment to meet different strategic goals and respond to significant and complex challenges, while constantly adapting to the shifting regulatory environment. Waller’s healthcare practice has evolved to meet clients’ changing needs, from helping HCA, Inc. grow into the world’s largest investor-owned operator of healthcare facilities to navigating high-stakes compliance issues for clients across myriad segments of the industry, including outpatient healthcare, post-acute care, behavioral health, home health, and dentistry.
For more than a decade, Modern Healthcare has ranked Waller among the nation’s largest healthcare law firms, and we have been recognized by the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Health Law Section as the largest health law firm in the South. Waller also is recognized annually on the American Health Lawyers Association’s (AHLA) industry-esteemed “Top 10 Firms” list.
Waller attorneys are widely known for their industry insight and are regularly quoted on cutting-edge healthcare topics in Modern Healthcare, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other industry publications. Our attorneys also serve key leadership roles in the AHLA and ABA Health Law Section, and regularly speak at leading healthcare conferences throughout the nation. Additionally, Waller alumni fill C-suite, general counsel, compliance, and other senior roles at many leading healthcare companies and organizations, a reflection of the firm’s deep relationships with the companies and organizations driving the healthcare industry in the 21st Century.
Waller’s multidisciplinary healthcare department includes more than 125 experienced attorneys across the firm’s four offices in Austin, Birmingham, Memphis, and Nashville. Waller has built a national reputation for handling sophisticated, high-profile corporate transactions in the healthcare space, and our corporate transactional capabilities are complemented by attorneys with specialized expertise in nearly all areas of the law affecting our healthcare clients.
Healthcare Operations and Compliance
Healthcare organizations must navigate a minefield of state and federal regulatory issues in both their day-to-day operations and their long-term objectives. Waller’s healthcare operations and compliance attorneys work closely with clients to understand the clients’ business objectives and assist in implementing creative approaches to achieve those goals in a compliant manner. Due to the complexity of the regulatory landscape, healthcare attorneys are often brought in by attorneys in other practice groups to advise and assist in a variety of matters for healthcare clients (e.g. commercial finance, government investigations, and private equity transactions).
To be successful, healthcare attorneys need to be both highly technical and detail-oriented in order to align client objectives with the constantly changing regulatory environment. Matters can involve both state and federal laws, so it is important for healthcare associates to develop strong research and issue-spotting skills. Additionally, healthcare associates need to be effective communicators in order to distill complex issues and laws into clear, concise summaries for clients and provide the strategic solutions.
Typical areas in which healthcare compliance associates will be involved include:
- analyzing or drafting arrangements involving referral sources (e.g. physicians) to ensure compliance with state and federal anti-kickback and self-referral laws;
- structuring mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations;
- assisting in the development of innovative models for hospitals and physicians to work together (e.g. through clinical co-management agreements and foundation models, within accountable care organizations, and through joint venture arrangements);
- assisting with Certificate of Need and licensure applications; and
- drafting policies and procedures relating to HIPAA patient privacy/security regulations.
Government Investigations and Enforcement Defense
Companies and individuals operating in today’s healthcare regulatory climate increasingly find themselves the subject of criminal, civil, or administrative investigations and enforcement actions. The Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Inspector General (OIG), and other key agencies continue to step up their enforcement activities, and 702 new qui tam lawsuits – an average of 13.5 cases every week – were filed last year by whistleblowers under the False Claims Act. In addition to the enhanced level of government scrutiny, recent hikes in the civil monetary penalties associated with violations of the healthcare fraud and abuse laws have made the stakes higher than ever.
From publicly traded companies to individual health care providers, clients turn to Waller’s high-profile team of government investigations and white collar defense attorneys. The investigations team comprises seasoned litigation and healthcare industry professionals, as well as several former federal prosecutors, and is bolstered by our nationally recognized healthcare regulatory and compliance team to help clients carefully navigate everything from non-routine audits and qui tam lawsuits to criminal enforcement actions. We help clients respond to such actions with strategies aimed at minimizing – or completely avoiding – penalties, negative publicity, and disruptions to their business operations. While we strive to proactively resolve matters short of litigation, our attorneys have the experience necessary to litigate a case through trial in order to obtain favorable results for the client.
As part of our government investigations and enforcement defense practice, associates may be called upon to assist with conducting sensitive internal investigations, including participating in witness interviews, reviewing documents, and preparing correspondence to relevant government agencies. When deemed appropriate for the client’s situation, associates may also be asked to help draft voluntary disclosure submissions to DOJ, OIG, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and other regulators. Finally, in the event litigation becomes necessary, associates play a critical role in reviewing and compiling evidence to support the client’s position, drafting pleadings and other court filings, and assisting with other trial preparation activities.
Public and private healthcare companies and their investors rely on Waller’s transactional attorneys for advice and counsel on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, recapitalizations, commercial finance transactions, and securities offerings. Waller handles a significant number of complex transactions in the middle market, and our associates frequently work opposite peers in national law firms located in most major cities. In addition, Waller is committed to identifying and developing expertise in emerging areas, as evidenced by the firm’s growing healthcare information technology practice, our reputation as a trusted advisor to dental support organizations and related multi-site specialty practices, and our ability to guide private equity and venture capital clients through cutting-edge transactions.
Associates working in Waller’s corporate practice play a key role in virtually every transactional matter the firm handles. Typically, senior associates are directly responsible to the lead partner for managing all aspects of a transaction, including drafting purchase agreements and other material documents and coordinating with the firm’s healthcare regulatory, tax, and other specialized practitioners. Junior associates also play critical roles in transactions, assisting with the drafting of transaction documents, monitoring and managing deal deadlines, and providing support to the lead senior associate or partner working on the deal.
Waller’s corporate transactional attorneys have earned a lofty reputation in the healthcare industry due to their keen understanding of the sector and willingness to always “go the extra mile” to help clients achieve their business objectives. To maintain that reputation, associates must be attentive to detail, driven, skilled at multi-tasking, and capable of effectively communicating and working collaboratively with other members of the deal team. Waller does not rest on its laurels, and firm leadership has historically stayed a few steps ahead of the competition in analyzing the market and determining what impact changes in the economy, the regulatory environment, and our clients’ needs will have on the development of niche practices and other specialized legal offerings... so stay tuned.
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