Health Care Unplugged: McDermott Will & Emery Blog Gets Thru to the Issues of a National Dilemma

Last November, at the JVC Insurance Forum in Chicago, two speakers on a panel about health care reform almost came to blows. Perhaps it was because the physician from a public hospital in West Virginia kept throwing the word 'disingenuous' around every time the panelist from Aetna made a comment. Greg Serio-a former Insurance Commissioner and the middle ground voice of reason sitting between two very different extremes-lamented how political rhetoric continued to get in the way of efforts to identify and grapple with the real issues impacting health care reform.

The political rhetoric hasn't gone away, but with the recent passage of national health care reform legislation, the need for a source where solid, reliable information can be found has become particularly pressing. It's even better if that information is timely, comprehensive and cutting edge.

Well, stop searching. The McDermott Will & Emery firm is now publishing the Health Care Law Reform blog, where you'll be able to find all the material you may need on health care topics.  Edited by attorneys Joel Michaels, Karen Sealander and Eric Zimmerman and written by various members of MWE's Health Law and Government Strategies Groups, the MWE blog provides industry-leading perspective from health law attorneys on current and potential developments in health care legislation and regulation, plus insight and analysis on how those changes will affect the health care industry.  The blog is updated on a regular basis, and with national health reform imminent, is becoming a valuable resource.

The blog is especially valuable for its authors' ability to pinpoint how legislative developments will affect the various (and often competing) interests of various business and industry groups. In the past several weeks alone, the MWE blog has analyzed how the health care reform legislation affects hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, tax exempt hospitals, employers and the "wealthiest" individuals.

MWE's blog also does a bang up job of demystifying some of the more complicated (and contentious) aspects of the legislation-such as who will be footing the bill for the new law's admittedly far-reaching (some would say unconstitutional) provisions. For example, Martha Pugh's post about health reform revenue raisers highlights the most significant funding provisions organized by the year in which they will begin under the new legislation. I'd read about the 10% excise tax on tanning parlors (2010), increases in the Medical payroll tax and limits on contributions to health flexible spending accounts (2013), and the new tax on investment income for individuals with income of more than $200,000 (also 2013). But I hadn't heard a whisper about the 40 percent excise tax on insurance companies and plan administrators for health insurance plans above the threshold of $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage that goes into effect in 2018. Yikes.

The blog covers all the key topics that impact health care developments. Employee benefits, health IT, life sciences, payors/managed care, providers, reimbursement/fraud & abuse, tax, tax exempt organizations, and developments on the Hill are all included in this blog's content mix.

The Health Care Law Reform Blog also provides an exhaustive list of handy links. All the pieces of the new and related legislation, Congressional Committee reports, amendments, press releases, policy papers, and newsletters are readily accessible from the site's main page.

Although the nation has a new health care law, debate over its provisions continues. And no matter what side of the controversy you find yourself, rest assured that the legislation is certain to affect you, your family, your business and/or your clients in some way in the months and years to come. While blogs don't (and shouldn't) take the place of sound legal advice, MWE's Health Care Law Reform blog is an excellent starting point. Check it out to learn the straight skinny on this controversial area of law.

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Karen C. Yotis has practiced law in Illinois for 20 years and specializes in topics associated with regulatory issues and compliance and life and health insurance. She is a Legal Content Planner for the LexisNexis Communities, including the LexisNexis Insurance Law Center, the Environmental Law/Climate Change, Toxic Torts/Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation Law Centers.

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