The interrobang of public health

Opening Statement

Paul Dailing


March 2017

You’ve seen an interrobang, maybe tapped one out in an e-mail or scribbled it in a frantic note that simply read “What!?”

It’s the term for when you put the exclamation point and question mark together into a new character. It’s the !? in “Who said that!?” and “How dare they!?”

The exclamation point connotes emotion; the question mark, uncertainty. And any sentence currently written about American health care law should probably end with it.

As millions wait to see what the “replace” part of the GOP’s “repeal and replace” pledge on the Affordable Care Act will turn out to be, the nation’s locked into this particular punctuation. Emotions are high and known quantities are few as low- and moderate-income Americans hope they can afford whatever comes next.

In this month’s Chicago Lawyer, we’re debuting a new column that helps to reduce the ! and eliminate the ? — answering the frantic question of “What’s going on in health care law!?” with a definitive “What’s going on in health care law.”

We reached out to Neville M. Bilimoria, a partner with Duane Morris’ health law practice group, to guide us through this process.

His first column looks at the current state of health care law in America, but it’s not a public policy column. Over the months, it will cover everything from discovery of medical records to cybersecurity to the market and regulatory incentives guiding everything from pharmaceutical companies to hospitals and your local GP. This will be information your practice can use.

Speaking of health law, this issue also features a look at the trend of hospital mergers as they relate to everything from public policy to antitrust regulation. Just because they involve surgeons and “Get Well” balloons doesn’t mean these large-scale combinations should be considered medical more than legal issues.

Currently, just in Chicago’s slice of the medical market, we have small hospitals advertising for partners, a few recent pairings going through their own relationship woes and one merger up before the feds to see if the pairing violates antitrust law. This issue looks at the incentives that led to the merger fever the nation has seen over the last few years and examines if those incentives will continue when whatever will happen with American health care law will happen.

We don’t know what the future holds or how to remove the !? that currently fuels the emotion and uncertainty driving both the market and your clients lives.

We hope the information in this magazine, now and in the future, can help you get a handle on these and other legal issues as they develop.

Paul Dailing