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Opportunity Knocks: How Health Care Reform Creates New Work

Having spent time working in such diverse practice areas as ERISA and asbestos litigation, I’m intrigued by the extent to which new legislation can create new practice areas for attorneys. Nearly any significant change in the law brings with it the possibility of new litigation and new work for attorneys. In that regard, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” is a potential boon for attorneys able and willing to tackle the new law ahead of the pack.

As with many other areas of regulation, many businesses will look to legal professionals for help to ensure compliance with the new requirements. This is especially true as the new law imposes unfamiliar rules. Many companies are confused as to what’s expected of them. This is especially true as the government itself continues to figure out issues such as compliance reporting. For example, the IRS is still writing some of the rules for the new big-business mandate requirement to offer “affordable” insurance.

And the new business opportunities are not all regulatory compliance issues either. For example, MSN reported that for one medical device manufacturer, the ACA meant spending many hours examining how the medical device tax would affect its business.

Similarly, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Affordable Care Act has increased the demand for “lawyers who specialize in complex hospital mergers, for instance, or who can advise private-equity firms on potential investments in new medical technology.” Indeed, the article further noted that some enterprising firms have carved out niche practices in areas such as “appealing Medicare audits or handling reimbursement disputes.”

Indeed, Obamacare will either create or expand a host of legal issues ias far reaching as corporate mergers and acquisitions, tax law, insurance benefits, healthcare claims, and more. There are ample opportunities for attorneys who choose to learn and specialize in the nuances of the new law. That will take some time. Nonetheless, since many of these new issues are analogous to those in existing practice areas, it may simply mean a deep dive into the Affordable Care Act—rather than developing new legal skills.

If you’re looking to expand your practice areas, it may be worth it to take that time and get in ahead of the back.

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