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CVS General Counsel Prepares for Major Health Care Changes

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 16, 2017 3:56 PM

Tom Moriarty, general counsel for CVS, has a prediction and a prescription for general counsel.

Moriarty predicts that healthcare companies will need more legal help as state and federal governments deal with changes from the Affordable Care Act to the American Health Care Act. He says companies will need to give their general counsel larger roles because law and policy are intertwined in public health.

"In healthcare, more so than other areas, the role that general counsels will play will be much more central to the strategy of a company for the next five to seven years," Moriarty said in an interview with Big Law Business.

Larger Role

Elevated to policy chief and external affairs officer, Moriarty has become the voice of CVS to the public and lawmakers. He said that companies are increasingly leaning on their lawyers to help navigate regulatory or legislative uncertainties.

Republicans are pushing the American Health Care Act to replace Obamacare, but it is too early to tell how it will look in its final version. According to reports, however, it's already clear who will be helped or hurt by the bill.

CNN Money says the legislation will help younger Americans get cheaper coverage, and give middle-class and higher-income earners tax breaks and perks. Older Americans, on the other hand, could have to pay more and lower-income people could be left uninsured.

Opponents, including consumer and patient advocacy groups, say the bill could leave millions facing higher health care bills and less coverage.

Litigation Ahead

Attorneys general, primarily Democrats, and private attorneys have threatened to sue to make sure President Trump does not torpedo the Affordable Care Act. Trump said he would let the act "explode" if the proposed Republican replacement fails, telling the Wall Street Journal he could withhold billions of dollars of payments from insurers to force the Democrats' hand.

"He is intent on setting the dynamite and blowing this up," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told Reuters.

Whatever happens in the health care battle, Moriarty says health care counsel will have a bigger job and will need outside help. He said CVS has an internal team of lawyers who handle contracts and transactions but employs outside counsel for litigation, mergers and acquisitions and complex due diligence tasks.

"We've built up a pretty robust internal function," he said. "My philosophy is you need to look at the core skills and make sure you have that internal capacity and then use outside counsel for specialized areas."

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