Attorney shares expertise in health care law at U of M

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News
With the Affordable Care Act kicking in, Health Care Law is growing faster than many other legal fields. 

“I view it as the ‘plastics’ of this century in the same way Benjamin Braddock was advised to think about plastics in the ’60s movie, The Graduate,” says Foley and Mansfield attorney David Haron, an adjunct professor of Health Law at his alma mater, the University of Michigan Law School.

Two of Haron’s recent U of M courses were Business & Economics of Health Law, and Health Care Fraud & Abuse. 

“I enjoy the enthusiasm – and naiveté sometimes – of the students and their interest in learning new fields,” he says. “I enjoy walking the halls where I studied and am honored to actually see and speak to a number of the professors who taught me. It’s an honor granted to very few.”

According to Haron – who also taught for three years at Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, and teaches at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Ann Arbor – students interested in Health Care Law are choosing a good niche. 

“Given that about $2.5 trillion or more of GDP is spent on health care, and that health care decisions impact many areas of our lives from the obvious – hospital, physician, drugs, regulation, fraud, and electronic medical records – to the less obvious – employment, divorce, litigation, there are not many other areas where a ‘specialty in law’ is so broad,” he explains.

In 1996, Haron and his wife – also a U of M grad – endowed a scholarship at the Law School for students who demonstrate – through past experience, law school courses, clinics and projects, and future plans – a recognition and dedication to the professionalism and community service concepts to which every lawyer should aspire. 

“We felt we wanted to give back to the institution that gave so much to us,” he says. 

The “Wolverine” blood runs deep – “Both of our children are alumni, and our five grandchildren – ages 2-10 – are working on their applications,” he says with a smile.

A partner in Foley and Mansfield’s Detroit and Grand Rapids offices, and chair of the firm’s Whistleblower/Qui Tam practice group, Haron focuses on health care law, federal and state False Claims Act litigation, and business transactions and litigation. He represents and counsels health care clients in a wide array of legal matters, including compliance with fraud and abuse laws; credentialing and employment matters; shareholder disputes; regulatory interpretation; and business organization; and has written extensively regarding fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid fields and the False Claims Act. 

Some of Haron’s whistleblower and Qui Tam (whistleblower reward cases brought under the Civil War era False Claims Act) illustrate the broad reach of his practice and of the federal False Claims Act. 

“My first whistleblower case in 1993 involved a brave blood lab representative whose major national employer was defrauding Medicare by separately charging Medicare for individual tests that were ‘bundled’ with other tests that were already charged for,” he says. 

The case settled in 1996 for $119 million in a civil and criminal recovery.

A case from 2002 settled in 2010 with an $81 million recovery for the government. 

“This was based on the allegations of two courageous drug representatives who discovered their major pharmaceutical employer was selling an epilepsy anti-seizure drug off-label – for symptoms not approved by the FDA – because a side-effect was quick, significant weight-loss – something attractive to all physicians and their patients,” Haron says. “Unfortunately, other side effects caused cardiovascular and other serious complications.”

A few years ago Haron received an e-mail from a recently hired fraud investigator working for the City of Dallas, who claimed he had discovered the City’s Fire Department was billing Medicare, through a billing company, improperly for ambulance runs, charging every run as if it was a high-priced ‘advanced Life Support’ emergency, even if the resulting injury was minor or otherwise minimal. When the investigator brought it up to management, his allegations were dismissed and no action taken. 

“The client called me because he wanted to seek a lawyer as far away from Dallas as possible, being concerned of political shenanigans in that part of the country,” Haron says. 

The firm started a “Qui Tam” (whistleblower) suit in Dallas and in 2009 the case was settled with a $2.5 million recovery by the government. By that time, the client had been fired and his retaliation claim also settled, as did another $2 million suit concerning 15 other cities in the area committing the same fraud with the same billing company.

Haron and his colleagues have also handled nursing home, psychological clinic and other medical cases, highway, Iraq contractor, mortgage, defense, IRS and SEC whistleblowing cases

An arbitrator/mediator for the American Arbitration Association and FINRA, Haron serves as a hearing panelist on the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board and as a fee arbitrator for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. 
“I’m good at it—despite my quick temper trigger sometimes and my tendency to advocate,” he says. “After 45 years in practice, I believe I’m able to recognize advocacy, delaying tactics and each party’s view of the world and to bring a practical approach to solutions.”

That passion for advocacy was evident as far back as Middle School in Mumford, Mich. 

“I was drawn to law by my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Karlick, with whom I must have argued constantly until she said I was going to be a lawyer—and then walking through the Law Quadrangle in Ann Arbor when I was an undergrad and wanting to live there,” he says.

After earning his undergrad degree in history from U-M in 1966, Haron earned his J.D. three years later from U-M Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Journal of Law Reform. He then served as a law clerk for Chief Judge T. John Lesinski of the then-recently-formed Michigan Court of Appeals. 

From 1990 to 2012 he was a partner at Frank Haron Weiner in Troy; before joining Foley & Mansfield as a partner in January 2013.

Named a “Michigan Super Lawyer” for many years, Haron was a recipient of the 2010 Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Leader in the Law” award. He is an active member in numerous professional associations, including the American and Michigan Bar Association Health Care Law sections, American Health Lawyers Association, and Taxpayers Against Fraud. Active in the Michigan and Oakland County Bar Association, he is a past chairman of the Professionalism Committees of both of those associations, and a long time member of the Michigan Association for Justice.

He is also a past president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation; and currently is a board member of JARC – a Farmington Hills nonprofit, nonsectarian agency helping people with disabilities – and C.A.T.C.H., (Caring Athletes Team for Children's & Henry Ford Hospitals), a charity founded by the late Sparky Anderson of the Detroit Tigers.

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