Exploring Critical Business and Legal Issues across the Healthcare and Life Sciences Industries
Exploring Critical Business and Legal Issues across the Healthcare and Life Sciences Industries

Five Questions with a Health Lawyer: James A. Cannatti III

By on September 23, 2019

Name: James A. Cannatti III
Practice Focus Area: Healthcare Fraud & Abuse
Office: Washington, DC
Years at Firm: 1

What is your favorite part about practicing healthcare law at McDermott?

My favorite part of working in the McDermott Health practice, and at the Firm generally, is the team approach to advising clients. Each of us has unique subject matter knowledge and experience in different areas of law. Very often, our clients require advice that cuts across multiple areas and issues. By working together across different disciplines within the Firm and within the Health practice we can provide comprehensive advice and counsel to our clients – not just advice on one discrete issue – and approach things from a broader, strategic perspective to help meet their needs.

What is the biggest opportunity and greatest challenge facing clients in your area of focus today?

I work in the healthcare regulatory space, focusing on federal and state fraud and abuse issues. As the healthcare industry has evolved and focused more on delivering value, many fraud and abuse laws, which were written decades ago, have not kept pace and have been seen as barriers to innovation. Over the last few years regulators have signaled a willingness to rethink how some of the laws should be applied to novel arrangements and approaches to care. The evolving regulatory landscape and the potential removal of some of the barriers posed by the fraud and abuse laws presents a significant opportunity for clients to pursue transformative approaches to care within our healthcare system. At the same time, change creates uncertainty and when there’s uncertainty there is also risk. Those who are able to manage the uncertainty and take advantage of new opportunities will be well positioned for success.

What kind of client work gets you most excited when it comes across your desk?

I mentioned the opportunities and challenges that the evolving fraud and abuse landscape presents. What I get most excited about is helping clients figure out how to navigate the uncertainty. I love thinking through issues like, “OK, these old laws do not contemplate this novel and beneficial arrangement, so how do we apply some of the traditional principles to this new situation and identify appropriate safeguards that do not stifle innovation?” It can be challenging at times, but it is also very rewarding to be able to work with clients to figure out answers to these tough questions and help position them to take advantage of the opportunities being presented.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date?

Joining McDermott after my time at the Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General is one of the proudest moments of my career so far. I knew the Firm had a great reputation, but what drove it home for me was the responses I received when I started telling my former colleagues that I was leaving government and going into private practice. Their first question was always, “Where are you going?” And when I’d say, “McDermott,” they would smile and say things like, “That’s a great firm. That’s a wonderful place.” To me, it was a reflection that McDermott not only has a great reputation in the healthcare industry, but also that others – often on the other side of the table from McDermott – really respect the attorneys here. To be able to call myself a McDermott attorney makes me very proud.

What is your favorite decoration in your office?

I have two pieces of art that my kids created when they were very young. One is a portrait of me that my son painted and the other is an abstract that my daughter did. I just love looking up and seeing those every day; it’s a way to bring those memories into work and a reminder that one reason I work so hard is because of them. It’s just nice to have that piece of them here with me.

Click here to learn more about James’ practice. 




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