As the country’s health-care laws change, employers are seeking out attorneys who can help them adapt. At Foley & Lardner, Nick Welle has become the expert in this field.
Welle devotes his practice to matters concerning employer-provided health plans. He specializes in health-care reform and consumer-driven health benefits like health savings accounts, wellness programs and telehealth services.
“Foley saw a need to have someone specialize in this area and take on this significant client work,” said Linda Benfield, managing partner at the firm. “Nick is the first attorney at Foley & Lardner to devote 100 percent of his practice to health plan-related issues.”
Welle, who works out of the Milwaukee office, has in-depth knowledge of federal laws concerning health plans, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
His counsel on HIPAA, for instance, has become crucial as health information increasingly becomes available online and cyberattacks lead to data breaches. He also has been helping clients respond to the Internal Revenue Service’s recent enforcement of the ACA’s employer mandate, which has led to penalties being leveled against employers.
“Nick has been the lead on handling the responses to the IRS and working with the IRS to significantly reduce these penalties for clients,” Benfield said. “This is becoming a significant issue in the industry as some employers are facing IRS penalty assessments totaling millions of dollars.”
Welle, who attended the University of Wisconsin Law School, sees his job as both a legal and business advisor who understands his clients’ goals and limitations. He believes a lawyer’s real value comes in providing clients with advice about the best way to proceed with a particular difficulty, discussing industry norms and giving “clear guidance even when the law is unclear.”
He also derives fulfilment from leading Foley’s Street Law program, a collaboration among various organizations. The program is meant to teach Milwaukee high school students from low-income and diverse backgrounds about the law and legal careers.
Twenty-five students participated in the inaugural program this year, a number Welle is hoping will double next year. The program helps students learn about legal basics concerning contracts, employment law and copyrights. Two graduates were chosen to become paid interns at Foley for the summer.