My favorite class this semester is one that I almost didn’t take. It is a seminar class with less than twenty students, taught by a local practicing attorney. The class, Health Care Fraud and Abuse, is not one of the fundamental classes – like Corporations or Tax – that I was advised to take in order to prepare for the bar. Nor does it satisfy any of the requirements that BU imposes on 2Ls and 3Ls, like Professional Responsibility or the Professional Skills requirements.
My original plan had been to take those fundamental and required courses during my 2L year, getting them out of the way so I could take specialized seminars on topics I was interested in – like health care fraud – during my 3L year. While perusing the registration materials, however, I noticed that the Health Care Fraud seminar was not always offered every year. I knew it was a topic that I wanted to learn more about, so I decided to postpone one of the basic classes I had signed up for and take Health Care Fraud while I could.
The class has been an incredible experience on so many levels. First, we have learned about each of the major statutes used to prosecute health care fraud. We have discussed not just the case law, which is evolving as the health care industry changes, but also the practical considerations of prosecutors and defense attorneys through the litigation process.
This practical focus is in part due to the fact that the instructor – Bob Thomas – is a solo practitioner with a premier whistleblower practice. Whistleblowers, or relators, are individuals who can bring a fraud claim on behalf of the U.S. government through the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act. Prof. Thomas has also previously worked as a federal prosecutor and a defense attorney. He has unique insight into the health care fraud world, and is eager to share it with the class.
Due to Prof. Thomas’s connections with these health industry and government players, we are spending the month of November hearing from guest speakers. We first visited a start-up pharmaceutical company in Cambridge. After studying the health care industry all semester, it was fascinating to actually hear about these issues from the industry’s perspective. The second speaker was a real live whistleblower, who shared his personal experience reporting fraud to the government. Next class we will hear from a federal prosecutor and, after that, a defense attorney.
The other thing that makes the seminar so enjoyable is the other students. I thought I was coming into it with some previous knowledge based on my summer internship, but the class is full of students who have had multiple jobs, internships, and classes in all aspects of the health and health law fields. Hearing their knowledgeable perspectives adds so much to our class discussions.
I could go into much more detail about the content of the class and how much I’m loving learning about health care fraud, but the point of this post is that when you spot an interesting seminar that you think you’ll like, don’t worry about taking that Tax class. Tax will be there every semester; choose the seminar instead!