About Wendy Netter Epstein

Wendy Netter Epstein is a Visiting Associate Professor at the University Chicago Law School, and an Associate Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Jaharis Health Law Institute at the DePaul University College of Law. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Recent Developments. Prior to starting her academic career, Professor Epstein was a partner in commercial litigation at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, with a focus on health industry clients. Professor Epstein’s teaching and research interests focus on health care law and policy, contracts, and commercial law. Her work takes an interdisciplinary approach, applying both law and economics and behavioral science principles to problems negatively impacting vulnerable parties. In 2017, Professor Epstein won both the University-wide and law school Excellence in Teaching Awards at DePaul University. Representative publications: The Health Insurer Nudge, 91 S. Cal. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2018). Price Transparency and Incomplete Contracts in Health Care, 67 Emory L. J. (forthcoming 2017). Nudging Patient Decision-Making, 91 Wash. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017). Revisiting Incentive-Based Contracts, 17 Yale J. Health Pol’y L. & Ethics 1 (2017). Facilitating Incomplete Contracts, 65 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 297 (2015). Public-Private Contracting and the Reciprocity Norm, 64 Am. U. L. Rev. 1 (2014). Contract Theory and the Failures of Public-Private Contracting, 34 Cardozo L. Rev. 2211 (2013).

The CVS/Aetna Deal: The Promise in Data Integration

By Wendy Netter Epstein

Earlier this month, CVS announced plans to buy Aetna— one of the nation’s largest health insurers—in a $69 billion deal.  Aetna and CVS pitched the deal to the public largely on the promise of controlling costs and improving efficiency in their operations, which they say will inhere to the benefit of consumers. The media coverage since the announcement has largely focused on these claims, and in particular, on the question of whether this vertical integration will ultimately lower health care costs for consumers—or increase them.  There are both skeptics  and optimists.  A lot will turn on the effects of integrating Aetna’s insurance with CVS’s pharmacy benefit manager services.

But CVS and Aetna also flag another potential benefit that has garnered less media attention—the promise in combining their data.  CVS CEO Larry Merlo says that “[b]y integrating data across [their] enterprise assets and through the use of predictive analytics,” consumers (and patients) will be better off.  This claim merits more attention.  There are three key ways that Merlo might be right. Continue reading

Save The Date! 2/22/18: The Jaharis Symposium on Health Law and Intellectual Property

On February 22, 2018, join DePaul University, located in downtown Chicago, for The Jaharis Symposium on Health Law and Intellectual Property: Technological and Emergency Responses to Pandemic Diseases.

Hosted by DePaul University’s Mary and Michael Jaharis Health Law Institute and the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Information Technology (CIPLIT®), this one day conference will focus on “best practices” in response to emerging pandemic diseases.

Connect with keynote speakers Lawrence Gostin–University Professor and Faculty Director, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University– and Richard Wilder–Associate General Counsel, Global Health Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  They will be joined by other esteemed panelists during this timely and important discussion.

@DepaulHealthLaw

Opportunity: Faculty Fellow in Health Law and Intellectual Property

The Jaharis Health Law Institute is now accepting applications for a Faculty Fellow in Health Law and Intellectual Property!

Established in 1984 and supported by the Mary and Michael Jaharis Health Law Institute (JHLI), DePaul’s health law program has consistently ranked among the top in the nation. JHLI offers students coursework that reflects the diversity of health law from community health to high-tech health care, making DePaul a leader in the education of future generations of health law partners, policy makers and critical thinkers.

About the Fellowship:
An endowment at the DePaul University College of Law funds a faculty fellowship program for scholars to create and disseminate scholarship and teach courses where two dynamic legal fields are increasingly intersecting—intellectual property and health law. The fellowship is designed to encourage scholars interested in entering a career in legal academia in these fields. The Jaharis Faculty Fellow will work with and be mentored by faculty from DePaul’s nationally-ranked Mary and Michael Jaharis Health Law Institute (JHLI) and Center for Intellectual Property Law & Information Technology (CIPLIT®). Continue reading

Block Grants: Sound Theory or Doomed to Fail?

Block grants are all the rage. Take the latest G.O.P. proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act: the Graham-Cassidy bill. It proposes to replace the current system and instead give grants to the states, essentially taking the funds the federal government now spends under the ACA for premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion and give those funds to the states as a lump sum with little regulation.

There is a complicated formula by which the bill proposes divvying up this money among the states. Many think the formula is unfair, that it benefits red states over blue states, and that it just flat isn’t enough money. These are incredibly important concerns. But let’s put them to the side for just a moment and consider the theory behind block granting. Is there any world, for instance assuming that the amount and allocation of the funding could be resolved (probably crazy talk), in which switching to block granting may actually improve upon the status quo?

Proponents of block granting health care make two main arguments. First, it will reduce costs. By block granting Medicaid and the ACA subsidies, we end the blank check open entitlement that these programs have become and give states more skin in the game. Second, these cost savings will come from empowering states to innovate. States will become more efficient, improve quality, and solve their own state-specific problems.

These arguments have an understandable appeal. But how will states really react to providing health care coverage on a budget? Continue reading

New CBO Analysis: Cutting Subsidies Would Backfire on Trump

By Wendy Netter Epstein 

The cost-sharing reduction payments are an essential component of the ACA.  These payments reduce out-of-pocket costs for lower income enrollees so that individuals can actually use their insurance coverage and not be prevented from seeking care because of a high deductible or a copay they can’t afford.  President Trump has been threatening since he took office to end these payments.  And there is at least some possibility that he has the authority to do (see House v. Price).

Politically speaking, Trump’s goal in threatening to end these payments is either to hasten what he sees as the inevitable demise of Obamacare—or at least to use the threat of ending the payments to hold the feet to the fire of those who have resisted “repeal and replace.”  Either way, Democrats have widely condemned Trump’s threats and the instability they cause in the market. Continue reading