CVS Leans Harder On General Counsel

June 15, 2017, 1:42 PM

This Tuesday, as the Senate held the first of several hearings on the rising cost of prescription drugs, CVS general counsel Tom Moriarty was also in Washington, D.C.,speaking at a conference about how his company worked with Ohio’s Medicaid program to drive down the costs of drugs.

This spring, CVS elevated Moriarty, adding chief policy and external affairs officer to his title, which puts him in a newly created role in which he often is acting as the company’s voice to the public and to legislators.

[caption id="attachment_27434" align="alignleft” width="132"][Image “CVSTomMoriarty5x7finDSC_7121" (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CVSTomMoriarty5x7finDSC_7121-e1472581622998.jpg)]Moriarty.[/caption]

With the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the Trump Administration’s proposed $610 billion cuts to Medicaid, Moriarty predicted that other healthcare companies would give their general counsel enlarged roles because law and policy are so bound together in this area. Increasingly, companies are going to be leaning on their lawyers to help navigate uncertainties that arise in regulatory or legislative language, as various states and the federal government seek to manage healthcare costs, he said.

“In healthcare, more so than other areas, the role that general counsels will play will be much more central to the strategy [of a company] for the next five to seven years,” Moriarty said in an interview with Big Law Business.

In his new position, Moriarty is spending more time in Washington, having met in recent weeks with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, several White House officials and spoken to the National Association of Attorneys General about prescription drug costs, according to a company spokesman.

Below are a few other comments from the brief interview with Moriarty:

  • On the chances that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare is repeasled: “We’re watching with great interest. I think it’s going to be several months … [and] that it may be unlikely that we see anything from a legal perspective this year.”

  • On the news reports speculating that Amazon will enter the pharmaceutical sector: “They’re a fierce competitor.” But he noted, “The consumer preference for mail order [prescription drugs] is declining” and suggested Amazon’s decision will likely be based, at least in part, on whether it wants to develop some sort of retail storefront.

  • On when he uses outside counsel: “We’ve built up a pretty robust internal function. My philosophy is you need to look at the core skills and make sure you have that internal capacity and then use outside counsel for specialized areas.” CVS has an internal team of lawyers who handle contracts and transactions but turns to law firms for mergers and acquisitions of public companies, or more complex due diligence tasks.

Write to Big Law Business at biglawbusiness@bna.com .

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