December Spotlight: Hal Katz

hal-katzThis year, The Ambulatory M&A Advisor has made a commitment to routinely spotlight various members of the outpatient healthcare industry.  The featured spotlights focus on individuals that have had a unique impact on the industry and understand the true value of healthcare beyond the business aspects.  Aside from healthcare providers in the field, spotlight features will also focus on valuation and legal experts in the industry.  December’s healthcare spotlight is Hal Katz, Partner, Husch Blackwell.

Katz was born in San Antonio, Texas, and made his way through Austin and Houston throughout his high educational career.

“I finished high school in Austin, then went on to the University of Texas for undergraduate school.  Then I went to the University of Houston for law school,”  Katz says.

“Since high school, I was passionate about the law and helping people utilize the law to protect their rights and to pursue opportunities.  My mentor in high school was a man by the name of John Henry Faulk.  John Henry was blacklisted during McCarthyism.  Hearing the stories of how he was blacklisted and how he fought the blacklisting in a landmark lawsuit upholding his constitutional rights, was one of the things that got me passionate about the law.”

Before going to law school, Katz says he worked for a couple members of Congress.  At that point, his goal was to go to law school and then head to DC with his law license and try to get involved with policy.

“When I got to law school and learned about health law and saw that I could both, be involved in policy and also have a private practice, I decided to focus on health law and become a private attorney,” Katz says.

The most interesting part to Katz about working in health law is that healthcare is such an important issue for the country.

“It is always one of the top issues within public policy and just the news in general.  It is also an important issue that faces our economy.  Healthcare is always receiving a lot of focus and interest.  That was exciting to me.  Because it is always the focus there are constant changes and it never gets old.  There is always something exciting.  You have to keep up with the law, new business arrangements, new healthcare models that are being experimented with.  There is also the policy side and being able to have input in how those laws are developed,” Katz says.

“In representing our clients, we are on the front line with them.  We see what is working and what is not working. We try to take those experiences to the policy makers, whether that is at a Federal level or a State level.  We try to help them understand some of the challenges that are being faced down at the front line.”

According to Katz, the most challenging area of his position is that there are two different standards in the industry.  Katz says there is one for the healthcare industry and then one for every other industry.  According to Katz, helping his healthcare clients understand this issue can be challenging.

“You have to help them understand that you can’t pay for referrals.  In every other business that involve a sales aspect, you reward your sales force based on how much money they generate.  However, in the healthcare industry, you can’t.  You have fraud and abuse laws that prohibit kickbacks.  There are complicated laws.  Getting my clients to understand that double standard and then finding ways of working within those laws can be challenging.  There is a lot of grey and not a lot of guidance with those laws,” Katz says.

Katz’s biggest accomplishment in his 20 plus years as a healthcare lawyer is how he has been able to use the experience gained as a healthcare lawyer in giving back to his community.  He has served on boards of healthcare organizations, both non-profit and governmental.  He helps them deal with the same types of issues that his clients are dealing with.

“I feel obligated and privileged to be able to take that experience and share it with them,” Katz says.

“I represent hospital systems, major regional physician organizations, and other types of businesses within the healthcare industry.  I see what is happening in Texas and across the country. I can bring that to these non-profits and help make a difference within my community.  I feel really good about the work that I have done in that area.  I feel similarly proud of the work that I have done within the American Bar Asssociation’s Health Law section.  I have seen that as a way of upholding the professional standards and building a body that supports other healthcare lawyers across the country.”

Katz is proud to be a resource, a mentor to other health lawyers.  However, when he is not working Katz is a certified yoga instructor, enjoys fishing and being around his family.

“I have got an amazing wife who is a software engineer…it blows me away, all of the work that she does with emerging technology.  I also have got two older kids.  One in her Senior year of college at the University of Texas; and one in his Senior year of high school heading off to the University of Colorado next year.  They all keep me busy, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of their lives.”

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