Health care law encompasses a wide range of issues. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the primary governmental agency responsible for legal aspects of U.S. health care. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) controls regulations surrounding pharmaceutical issues. The various states establish regulations applicable to financial guidelines and other factors that impact interaction among health care providers, third-party payors (insurance companies and managed-care groups) and patients.
In Florida, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) regulates hospitals and health care facilities, including health care clinics; it also administers Florida’s certificate of need (CON) program. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) regulates Florida’s licensed health care professionals such as doctors, dentists and nurses; it also regulates in office surgery performed by physicians and it maintains and governs the system of public health clinics by which Florida provides services to the indigent, uninsured, and underserved. The Florida Department of Health investigates complaints filed against licensed health care professionals and prosecutes them where necessary. The professional boards, such as the Board of Nursing, the Board of Medicine, the board of Dentistry and others are subdivisions of DOH.
The Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) administers programs for persons with developmental disabilities and the Medicaid benefits for them in Florida. The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) regulates the services which protect children from abuse and provides Medicaid benefits for them.
Attorneys with health care practices most often represent plaintiffs or defendants on health care regulatory matters, in health care contracting, in structuring new business ventures involving health care services, in medical malpractice matters, in professional licensing and disciplinary matters, in Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases, in cases against health insurance companies and managed care plans, and in other matters involving medico-legal issues and bioethics issues. Health care lawyers also handle business/corporate law matters (such as the purchase, sale or lease of health care facilities, offices and practices) and regulatory compliance for physicians, medical clinics, nursing homes and hospitals or for payor groups (health insurers).
In Florida, the Florida Bar recognizes a number of different legal specialties and grants certification in them. One of the areas of legal specialization is Health Law. The process by which an attorney may become a board certified health lawyer is rigorous and includes, a minimum of five years of practice, a minimum number of hours of advanced continuing legal education courses in the area, a rigorous certification examination and a peer review process.
As of 2008, there are only 110 members of the Florida Bar who are board certified in health law. Mr Indest is one of these.