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November 29, 2023

Guest Column

The 21st Annual Washington Health Law Summit

By Diane Carter, Husch Blackwell LLP, Austin, TX, and Clay J. Countryman, Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, LLP, Baton Rouge, LA

Click here for the audio version of this article

One of the things that makes practicing healthcare law challenging and exciting is the constant change and friction associated with government regulation. While healthcare is not alone in this regard, it is certainly one of the most heavily regulated industries in the U.S. and, as we are all very much aware, there is practically no area of healthcare law that is immune to the vagaries of the federal and state healthcare regulatory framework.

The ABA Health Law Section’s 21st Annual Washington Health Law Summit is December 11–12, 2023, at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC. This conference includes speakers from federal regulatory agencies that regulate and significantly impact the healthcare industry, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Inspector General, the Office for Civil Rights, and the Federal Trade Commission.

The conference will also include speakers and sessions on federal healthcare legislative initiatives and proposals. Conference attendees will be able to network with government regulators who are developing policies and regulatory frameworks for healthcare-related areas, such as cybersecurity, private equity ownership of healthcare providers, pharmacy benefit managers and drug pricing, the Medicare Advantage program, and use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

The conference will also highlight larger policy changes that have a great deal of significance for healthcare, albeit in a less obvious manner. For instance, there has been a steady evolution in the DOJ’s priorities and activities, and this reorientation has had notable implications for healthcare, particularly in the DOJ’s pursuit of fraud. Likewise, the Biden administration has placed a great deal of emphasis on antitrust policy; this, too, has had a tremendous impact on dealmaking in healthcare, as market participants weigh and consider how the DOJ’s and FTC’s evolving guidelines introduce new transactional risks.

The current healthcare regulatory framework—and the healthcare industry more broadly—has been under a great deal of stress and scrutiny. Especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone involved in healthcare has had occasion to question some of our foundational premises or wrestle with a difficult situation where prevailing law and operational needs seem to clash or conflict. In some cases, the rapid evolution of treatment modalities and cultural expectations have outstripped the existing framework; in other cases, long-settled practices that once seemed to make a lot of sense now appear out of touch or misaligned with the industry’s core mission.

To say that healthcare is at a crossroads is something of a cliché, but the pandemic’s aftermath and the operational difficulties faced by healthcare providers have burdened the present moment with a great deal of significance for what is to follow. The industry has contended with—and will continue to do so—major changes that by and by will redefine many aspects of what healthcare is and does. Exciting times, to be sure, but also not entirely without risk or worry.

We are looking forward to the Washington Health Law Summit to learn about the latest healthcare regulatory and policy developments and legislative proposals, and network with peers and policymakers. We’ve always found these opportunities to listen to and share with industry colleagues to be of great value. If you have not yet registered, we encourage you to do so. We hope to see all of you in Washington!

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