Sunday, February 2, 2014

Researching Obamacare:1,000 Pages of Law + 20,000 pages of Regs. What's a Lawyer to Do? Wolters Kluwer Launches the Health Reform KnowlEDGE Center


While there is much disagreement about both the substance and policy behind the Affordable Care Act,  it can be universally stipulated that it is a complex law  which promises an increasingly complex implementation.  The law itself is about 1,000 pages long and to date  the implementing  federal regulations are reported to number in excess of 20,000 pages which impact over 700 sections  of the Code of Federal Regulations. Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sibelius testified to a House Committee  in December 2013  that she didn’t know how many pages of regulations there are. According to a recent report in Politico "Some of the most important actions ahead may be impossible to predict until after the initial open-enrollment period ends on March 31st."

 But that’s not the whole story!

The ACA also dovetails with the substantial body of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare law and regulation. Then there are the state laws and regulations related to the implementation of the ACA insurance exchanges. Add to this brew, the shifting time lines and the recent cascade of postponements and exceptions. 

 What is a lawyer to do? Wolters Kluwer is betting that they have developed the answer. 

Today Wolters Kluwer is releasing the Health Reform KnowlEDGE Center. The product is designed for legal, health care, compliance and human resource professionals. The  ACA law and regs have been developing since the law was passed in March 2010. It was not until the Supreme Court rendered the opinion in The National Federation of Independent Business v Sibelius   in June 2012  that   a crescendo of need began to build in the legal world clamoring for reliable practice guidance on the ACA.

The Supreme Court Opinion signaled to law firms and businesses that it really was time to get ready for ACA. Health Care Practice groups and teams were formed, but they all faced a common need to find  current reliable sources of laws, regulations and commentary. Since the ACA cuts a swath across so many traditional practice groups, the WK product was built to support lawyers practicing health, benefits, tax , labor or insurance law. The promotional materials for the KnowlEDGE Center promise a reliable source for quick answers to complex questions.

The Health Law KnowlEdge Center Dashboard

Wolters Kluwer developed the KnowlEDGE Center to provide  is a single source solution for multiple market segments: law firms, in house counsel, corporate compliance offices,  health care providers and insurance companies. 

 “This [product] answers a key need for one source of reliable information about implementation of the ACA,” said Nicole Stone, director of the Health Reform KnowlEDGE™ Center.  “Our single solution enables users to survey the transforming health reform landscape in its entirety and then gain detailed insights into every area and every new development important to them. Recognizing the importance of this evolving area we plan to continue investing heavily in health reform resources and will introduce an enhanced alert system in March 2014.”
The KnowlEDGE Center Includes Several Especially Interesting and Innovative Components

1. Topical Navigators Provide "Point of View"  Research Topical Navigators  allow users to  research issues from what I think of as their “point of view” depending on whether they are representing an insurance company, a beneficiary  or  an employer.   You are allowed to select your context and navigate into the issues as they impact that market segment. Smart Chart technology will compare the impact of ACA on various issues and provide links to primary authority.
Health Reform Topical Navigator

2.  Tracker / Calendar – This feature will insert deadlines into a lawyers Outlook calendar and send alerts when there are changes to deadlines. Dates can be sorted by law, regulation or deadline.
Law and Regulatory Calendar/Tracker
3.Smart Charts – WK takes the innovative  technology of their smartcharts and applies it to specific ACA issues,  exchanges, contraception etc. Smart Charts – Allow you to compare the law and regs across states.
Smart Charts Compare Laws Across Jurisdictions



4. Health Reform Law Look Up

The ACA amended over 500 provisions of The Social Security Act which is the backbone of the Medicaid and Medicare programs. The Health Reform Lookup feature identifies all of the amended provisions of the Social Security Act and the 18 other Federal Laws impacted by the ACA. It also tracks changes to the ACA since it was first passed.

Health Reform Law Look Up

4. Collaboration.  Users can Download content to spreadsheets, documents or email and  share information  with colleagues and clients  on a non-systematic basis. (Mass distribution requires a separate license). This feature is not new for WK  but it is so important I just have to keep saluting WK for their “Sanity in licensing” feature which they introduced with the launch of their Daily  Reporting Suite. Yes, in the ordinary course of business, lawyers need to share licensed information with colleagues and clients. They shouldn’t have to stop to renegotiate a license before they hit "send"!

 The Health Reform KnowlEDGE Center  - Additional Features

In addition to the “killer apps” outlined above, the KnowlEDGE Center "dashboard" is chocked full of useful content and features:
  • Quicklinks include  newsletters, expert analysis, laws and regs,law & health blog.
  • The alert center delivers custom alerts on a daily or weekly basis. Provides links to primary sources and expert analysis.
  • Direct links to the Medicare and Medicaid guidance
  • Direct links to ERISA and IRC
  • Coverage of all grants, demonstration projects and government programs found in the ACA
  • Practical Know how and checklists
  • The regulatory alert center tracks change to custom filtered results
  •  Other resources: include links to federal agencies and other related websites CMS, HHS, IRS, FDA, state  Insurance exchanges,
  • Top Stories 
  • Regulatory Alerts 
  • Agency documents (CMS Letters, GAO reports, IRS documents etc.
  • Primary sources: laws, regulations, caselaw, administrative decisions
  • Fun Features: Fact of the Day, Poll of the Week, twitter
  • Mobility the center has apps for iPhone, ipad, Droid and BB – latest news  can be filtered by topic or jurisdiction
NOT GOOGLE. Legal information professionals are routinely challenged to explain the ongoing need for purchasing research products from commercial publishers in a post-Google world. The ACA is the poster child  of laws which illustrate the limits of Google as an effective legal research tool for  lawyers because they have ethical obligations to avoid malpractice. Of course the market has changed and there is resistance to paying for terabytes of  "plain vanilla" primary source law  which lacks editorial enhancements or  is linked using semantic technologies and intelligence. 

All the major legal publishers, LexisNexis, BloombergBNA and Thomson Reuters - Westlaw are shifting from content to process, from search to context, and weaving process and analysis into their platforms. Wolters Kluwer reports that they developed the KnowlEdge Center in 4 months by marshaling the technologists and editorial teams across all the product units which are touched by the ACA: insurance, labor, benefits, tax. The other major legal publishers have collected the ACA primary laws, regs and collateral materials but as of today Wolters Kluwer has claimed a significant lead in the ACA practice space with the release of the Health Law KnowlEDGE Center.
 
According to Bob Lemmond, President and CEO of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business “The Health Reform KnowlEDGE™ Center is one example of our many customer-engaged innovations. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business is taking our deep domain expertise and effectively combining it with customer insights and technical excellence to devise solutions that tackle today’s legal and regulatory challenges in both the business and practice of law.”

Rumors of Wolters Kluwer's demise in the legal market are premature. The KnowlEDGE Center combined with the upcoming release  of the“Cheetah ” platform  which I wrote about in December, suggest that WK may indeed be “getting its Groove back.”

Related Posts:

Can Wolters Kluwer Get Its Groove Back? Can Cheetah Outrun the Market?
Wolters Kluwer Launches Daily Reporting Suite Built for Collaboration and Copyright Complaince


2 comments:

  1. "The other major legal publishers have collected the ACA primary laws, regs and collateral materials but as of today Wolters Kluwer has claimed a significant lead in the ACA practice space with the release of the Health Law KnowlEDGE Center."
    You should take a look at Bloomberg BNA's Health Care Reform Adviser. HCRA includes extensive analysis of ACA as well as primary sources. It was launched in 2012.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My post does state that all the major publishers have added ACA primary source materials. I am not aware of any other publisher including BLaw as having added the kind of process improvement functionality I see in the WK product (i.e. the topical naviagtor, the ACA amendment locator, the interactive calendar, Health exchange smart charts). I totally respect the quality of the t Bloomerbg BNA offerings. The website for the Bloomberg BNA Health product provides the following descriptors: Reference: analysis, guidance and primary source material
    Decisions: full text judicial opinions, rulings and memoranda
    Notification: current reports providing news and developments . These are valuable but I don't see this as comparable to the WK platform. Please advise if there is additional functionality I am not aware of.

    ReplyDelete