John G. Beck – Liberty Healthcare Corporation
It’s an important mission this company in the Philadelphia area undertakes, Liberty Healthcare Corporation contracting with public and private entities serving vulnerable and specialized populations with flexible and intelligent services and solutions.
So, there’s opportunity and risk where John Beck has been since 2020 as senior associate general counsel with the additional role of chief compliance officer since early 2021. And, he says, the need to do some things differently—a task for which Beck says he’s qualified.
“I’m the first outside lawyer they’ve added in 30 years,” he tells Vanguard in April from headquarters in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. “I think I bring a fresh perspective to the way they are conducting legal business, as well as corporate compliance. I think as a legal and compliance department, we can do a lot more.”
Welcomes the workload
This past spring has been a busy one for Liberty Healthcare, with widespread requests for assistance to state agencies, managed care organizations and county governments. The company is federally certified as a Quality Improvement Organization-like Entity, and it’s often called upon for expertise in behavioral health, aging and disability support, intellectual and developmental disabilities, sex offender management, and correctional mental health.
Although data privacy and compliance had been separate from legal oversight, Beck’s been comfortable supervising those areas in addition to being an in-house counsel. New ideas and energy were needed for both, he says, and with his two decades-plus legal practice in healthcare, managed care and compliance, he’s provided more internal expertise on those processes as well as others, such as contracting and interactions with managed care organizations.
On the compliance front, Beck identified areas where Liberty Healthcare needed additional expertise with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as well as with state privacy laws and in contracts and policies.
While the company’s training materials were adequate, Beck felt that privacy and other areas needed more attention. For example, since more staff were now working remotely, he emphasized the need for more training about which emails and links should not be opened.
Well-known in certain specialized fields of healthcare law, Beck wasn’t shy about seeking advice from outside colleagues for legal and compliance advice. Much support in risk management in California came from Willis Towers Watson and Hooper, Lundy & Bookman. Then there was the extensive institutional knowledge of General Counsel Tod Mammuth, who has served Liberty Healthcare since its inception.
No more paper chase
In addition to updating training materials, Beck has enhanced internal reporting of legal and compliance activities. That included better tracking of legal expenses, improved forms and policies, and revamped agreements between the company and those it hires.
These new efficiencies have been helpful, Beck says, when Liberty Healthcare bids for projects and fills positions. Liberty bids on a lot of government-procured work in many states and many clients outsource their health workforce to the company. Physicians, psychologists, nurses, behavioral therapists and other difficult to fill positions—they’ve all been in demand.
In Pennsylvania, for example, Liberty Healthcare’s mission is to mitigate or eliminate imminent risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment of adults 18-59 years of age and living with disabilities. In their role, Liberty Healthcare personnel identify areas of risk to the individual, then offer service options to mitigate or eliminate the identified areas of risk, often through close coordination of the delivery of those services with local providers and resources.
Other jurisdictions have their own reasons for depending on Liberty Healthcare. Oklahoma, for example, uses the company for, among other uses, to reduce the wait time of developmentally disabled residents in need of home and community-based services or for managing residential facilities for those with intellectual and behavioral issues. In Maine and Delaware, some state facilities entrust Liberty Healthcare for hiring and managing clinical staff.
“It can be cheaper for our clients to use us,” Beck says. “We might vet and hire 20 or 30 healthcare professionals for one facility.
His impact greater
Though active in many states, Liberty Healthcare is a smaller company than most that Beck has worked for. That was one of the reasons for him going to Liberty from a longstanding role as senior associate general counsel with UnitedHealthcare Community and State.
“I’ve spent most of my career working directly for managed care organizations. Liberty provides a more unique, varied, and discrete group of services than my former employers,” he says. “For 15 years I focused on certain and specific aspects of a larger business where here I can get involved in many more areas of the business. I can make more of a positive impact as well learning and expanding my skills and knowledge.”
Aside from compliance, procurements, contracting, risk management and litigation management, there’s employment law, supporting human resources, and much interaction with business development and marketing, and—of course—the chance to make a greater difference in the health and quality of life for clients.
“I’ve always been interested in healthcare and health services and thought about going premed,” he says. “Science and math changed my position on that.”
After graduating from Washington & Jefferson College in 1988 with an economics degree, Beck enrolled in Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Upon graduating in 1991, he honed his skills as a litigator in private practice, often defending corporate clients in workers’ compensation cases.
After working at a couple of law firms, he began his in-house career at UPMC Health Plan, serving three-plus years as an assistant counsel and manager of contracting and vendor relations. Then, he worked for Managed Care of America Inc., Unison Health Plans, UnitedHealthcare and, finally, Liberty Healthcare Corporation.
“In-house legal work is my preference by a large margin,” says the father of two college-age children. “I don’t enjoy law firm work as much and having so many clients. I like having just one client and being able to focus on that one client and helping it function as well as possible.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer I 2022 Edition here.
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