Faculty Profile: Mark Hall

Photo of Professor Mark Hall

Professor Mark Hall

If you haven’t seen Mark Hall’s name in print or online, heard his voice on the radio or seen his face on television in the past year, you probably haven’t been paying close attention to the health-care reform debate.

Hall has been featured in myriad national print media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post. He’s been interviewed on National Public Radio and spotted on the NBC Nightly News talking about the constitutionality of government mandated health insurance, which Hall believes is not only constitutional but necessary in the same way Americans are required to have car insurance.

“The most fundamental change is to guarantee that people can get insurance regardless of their health conditions,” Hall told the local Fox 8 affiliate in a lengthy interview in which he was featured as a newsmaker. Others who have been spotlighted on the show include WFU Schools of Business Dean Steve Reinemund, who also is former CEO of Pepsico.

And it’s safe to say he will remain in the media spotlight as a number of states and the Republicans continue to try to repeal last year’s health-care reform legislation. Hall regularly consults with government officials, foundations and think-tanks about health-care public policy issues.

Hall says the 20 some states that have filed lawsuits trying to block the legislation don’t have a leg to stand on because it does little to impact states’ rights. “The law gives states complete flexibility to not set up a high-risk pool, to not set up the exchange, to not even take Medicaid money if they don’t want. States that don’t want to participate don’t have to.” But individuals have a colorable claim under the argument that the federal government lacks power to compel regulate people who choose not to purchase. Hall believes the issue will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court sometime in the 2012-2013 term

As one of the nation’s leading scholars in the areas of health-care law and policy and medical and bioethics, Hall is a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University, specializing in health care law and policy with a focus on economic, regulatory and organizational issues. As the Fred D. & Elizabeth L. Turnage Professor of Law, his primary appointments are in the Schools of Law and Medicine, but he also teaches in the university’s Schools of Business MBA program.

And most recently he has been appointed to the membership of one of the federal advisory boards that is implementing a part of the new health-care reform law.

“The biggest misconception about the legislation is that this is going to alter the care you get from your doctor,” he said. “The fear is this the law is going to jump in between me and my doctor, and it does the opposite. It will only help you keep the doctor you have.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program and provides for an Advisory Board to the program.

According to the statute, the purpose of the CO-OP program is to foster the creation of a nonprofit health insurance to offer qualified health plans in the individual and small group markets. The advisory board helps to determine which applicants will receive $6 billion of loans and grants to establish consumer-oriented nonprofit health insurers, Hall said.

Hall’s appointment began in January and continues for three years.

”I was appointed because of my experience studying the regulation of health insurance markets,” he said. “The CO-OP idea aims to find better ways to organize and run health insurers, and doing that requires knowing how they currently operate and what prevents them from innovating.”

In spring 2010, Hall organized a conference on “Patient-Centered Health Law and Ethics, which featured himself as well as Lois Shepherd, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, and involved participants from law and other academic fields including sociology, medicine, philosophy and religion. Scholars from these different fields shared their perspectives on whether law and ethics should focus more on patients’ concerns than on the concerns of health care providers, insurers, or the government. Following the conference, the Wake Forest Law Review reported on the scholarly discussion along with short essays submitted by the speakers. The inaugural conference of the Center for Bioethics, Health and Society was made possible by a generous gift from David Zacks (’64, JD ’67), co-chair of the law school’s Board of Visitors and a partner at Kilpatrick Stockton in Atlanta, who represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex litigation matters.

Hall also was the founding director of the WFU Center for Bioethics and he co-directs its Masters of Arts in Bioethics programs. He was named a fellow of the prestigious Hastings Center, a premier research institute in bioethics, in October 2010.

The author or editor of 15 books, including Making Medical Spending Decisions (Oxford University Press), and Health Care Law and Ethics (Aspen), Hall is engaged in research in the areas of consumer-driven health care, doctor/patient trust, insurance regulation and genetics.

His most recent research includes co-authoring “Per Capita Payments in Clinical Trials: Reasonable Costs versus Bounty Hunting,” “Lessons from Credit Bureaus for Improving the Market for Electronic Medical Records,” “Biobanking, Consent, and Commercialization in International Genetics Research: The Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium” and “Quality Regulation in the Information Age: Challenges for Medical Professionalism, in Medical Professionalism in the New Information Age.”

Hall has published scholarship in the law reviews at Berkeley, Chicago, Duke, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Stanford, and his articles have been reprinted in a dozen casebooks and anthologies. He regularly consults with government officials, foundations and think tanks about health-care public policy issues.

Before coming to Wake Forest in 1993, Hall was a professor at Arizona State University and has been a visiting professor at University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina and Duke University. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University in 1977 and a JD with highest honors from the University of Chicago in 1981.