The Way

GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing

Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.

Cybersecurity on the Mind of...

Jul. 26, 2016
THE DNC

In the wake of the Democratic National Conference (DNC), WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 leaked emails from the DNC compelling the DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to announce her resignation. The FBI is investigating the massive breach of the DNC's computers. 

BOARDS OF DIRECTORS

After the massive data breach in late 2013, Target shareholders filed several derivative lawsuits against Target Corporation's Board of Directors alleging that the board breached their fiduciary duties by failing to take sufficient steps to protect the company from a breach. However, a Minnesota federal judge recently dismissed the lawsuit against Target's Board based on the recommendations of Target's Special Litigation Committee.

HOSPITALS

American hospitals are facing weekly ransom threats from cyberattacks potentially challenging the financial stability of some health systems. Hackers infect computers with malware, which usually locks a person from accessing the computer, until the hospital pays a ransom. This year alone, hospitals in California, Kentucky, and Maryland have been hit. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ransomware cost Americans between $24 million and $28 million in 2015.

CONGRESS

Last year Congress passed cybersecurity legislation that was signed into law by President Obama that allows private and public companies to share information about threats they've encountered without the risk of being sued for data breach they reveal. A new bill (S. 2931) that was recently introduced into the Senate would give the Department of Justice more power to go after hackers. We're keeping close watch on all cybersecurity issues.

Healthcare Mergers

BLOCKED

The United States filed two antitrust lawsuits to block the two mergers of Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna, citing concerns it could drive up health care premiums, undermine innovation, and reduce competition. These healthcare companies represent four of the five biggest health insurers totaling $85 billion. 

ACCESS TO CARE

The Federal government heard opposition from hospitals and doctors who were concerned about access to care with the two mergers. Earlier this month, President Obama emphasized the need for competition to keep healthcare affordable for consumers in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Access to care will always be a high priority and we'll keep an eye on how this continues to unfold.

Making Our Way Around the Country

TEXAS

A report released by the Texas Department of Insurance (DOI) Workers' Compensation Research and Evaluation Group found the number of prescription N-drugs, meaning not recommended or drugs needing preauthorization, dropped 92% over the past six years (2009-2015). The cost of N-drugs dropped from $51 million to $7.2 million in that same six-year period. Texas implemented a closed formulary for new claims starting September 2011, and the closed formulary took effect for legacy claims two years later in September 2013. California is probably welcoming this report, since it's working on creating its own formulary by July 1, 2017.

CALIFORNIA

Last week California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law S.B. 914, which makes changes to the independent medical review (IMR) standards of the medical provider networks. The bill deletes the authorization to use the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines as standards for the IMRs. An injured employee may request an IMR if a treatment or diagnostic service remains disputed after a third physician's opinion.

POKEMON GO

Are you roaming the streets trying to catch Squirtle? (No, I am not making that name up.) Perhaps you were one of the folks who stopped traffic as swarms of people ran to New York Central Park trying to catch a Vaporeon. (No, I didn't make up that name either).  Be careful out there as distracted Pokemon Go players have been involved in a number of car accidents, injuries, and crime.

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