Industry Spotlight: 20 Questions with Heather Sanderson, Chief Legal Officer, Franco Signor

Claimwire Interview by Steve Schmutz

avatar Steve Schmutz

02/01/16  Interviews  0 comment(s) 

Industry Spotlight: 20 Questions with Heather Sanderson, Chief Legal Officer, Franco Signor

I thoroughly enjoyed my interview with Heather. What a great story - gaining an education, working hard, and being willing to learn new things. It's obvious that Heather is a top notch kind of person. Franco Signor is lucky to have her leading their legal department. 

Here's my interview with Heather Sanderson, Chief Legal Officer, Franco Signor:

 

1. Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida and Juris Doctorate degree from St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, Florida.

2. What was your first job in your professional career?

I started out my legal career as Staff Counsel for Gould & Lamb LLC.  I was their first full time Staff Counsel and I joined right at the height of their immense growth. It was a great first job for me in that not only was Gould & Lamb expanding, but also so was the demand for legal expertise in Medicare compliance due to the fact that Medicare was enacting brand new compliance and reporting requirements at that time. It forced me to become an expert in MSP-fast! And for that, I am grateful.

3. How did you end up in the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) compliance industry? 

I came to MSP compliance unexpectedly. Shortly after I passed the Bar Exam, I saw an advertisement for the role at Gould & Lamb and it piqued my interest. I remember thinking, “What is a Medicare Set Aside?” I knew very little about the industry, but it sounded very specialized and unique.

4. What are some of your hobbies?

I have been a pretty consistent runner for most of my life; it makes me feel great both physically and mentally. A few years ago I was running several marathons and half-marathons a year. I also love music and concerts, reading and writing. These days, as a new mom to a 15 month old, I spend my spare time with my family more than anything else. Prior to becoming a mom, I was told that being a parent is the best, yet hardest thing I would ever do in my life. Particularly with juggling a career, I couldn’t agree with that statement more. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love the challenges that both work and being a mom bring to me on a daily basis. 

5. What would you do if you didn’t work in the MSP compliance/insurance industry?

If I were to get out of legal work entirely, I would work on writing a book or doing any kind of writing in a full-time fashion. I have always loved to write, ever since I was a child.

6. As a Chief Legal Officer, what do you do to improve your professional skills?

I am always looking to continue my education and gain new skills. Daily, I monitor case law and news that has potential for impact to the way I guide Franco Signor’s clients.  A few years ago, I obtained 4 certifications in one year- I became Medicare Set-Aside Consultant Certified (MSCC), a Certified HIPAA Privacy Expert (CHPE), a Certified Litigation Management Professional (CLMP), and a Certified Medicare Secondary Payer Professional (CMSP).  My signature line became very long after that!

Since then, I continue to pursue continuing education for all of these certifications. Additionally, when I took on my role as Chief Legal Officer for Franco Signor, I became involved in more General Counsel groups, particularly the Association of Corporate Counsel which continuously provides education and events for Chief Legal Officers and General Counsels around the world.

7. What are the greatest assets and strengths Franco Signor has?

From an organizational perspective, we provide our clients with industry leading technology solutions to manage their MSP Compliance proactively.  Mandatory Insurer Reporting data drives Medicare recovery actions and benefit coordination.  Franco Signor has developed technology solutions to allow clients to customize their MSP compliance program while creating consistency across their entire organization regardless of end-user knowledge.  We understand that MSP Compliance goes beyond Medicare Set-Asides.  These innovative solutions have made us the fastest growing provider of MSP Compliance Services and one of the largest MSP vendors in the country.  From a personnel standpoint, our leadership and personnel represent the founders, leaders, and most experienced team in the MSP space.  Our clients rely on us to address legislative and regulatory issues through our leadership position on MARC (Medicare Advocacy Recovery Coalition) while maintaining strong and successful working relationships with CMS and its contractors.

8. Tell us how Franco Signor is doing and what you see in the next two to three years.

Franco Signor is leading the Medicare Secondary Payer industry with innovative services and unmatched technology solutions.  We continue to see the largest insurers, employers, and third party administrators choosing our solutions over our competitors in head-to-head comparisons.  Over the next few years, we will continue to lead the space with unrivaled solutions to the problems our clients encounter.  We expect to continue to grow our market share in with our existing service offerings while adding new solutions to address the evolution in CMS’ recovery efforts and our client’s needs.

9. What are the top two things that set your company apart from your competitors?

1)              Our software and service solutions are best-in-class.  While the rest of the market focused on MSAs, Franco Signor understood very early on that effective MSP compliance required the use of data to obtain the optimum overall compliance. Our technology solutions and customized programs provide our client partners the precise compliance that they demand.

2)              Our personnel have led the industry in every aspect of MSP compliance since the beginning. With our experience and knowledge, clients find a level of customer service and competence rarely encountered in the space.  Franco Signor prides itself in a 100% client retention rate over the last 3 years.

10. What is one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make in your current role as Chief Legal Officer at Franco Signor?

Probably deciding the right fit as far as the attorneys in our legal department. Hiring an all-star can make a significant difference in a growing company, especially where legal expertise is so heavily relied upon by our staff and clients. 

11. In just a few key words, describe the culture of Franco Signor LLC.

Innovative, Visionary, Consultative, and Passionate.

12. What challenges do you see the MSP compliance industry facing in the next few years?

The industry eagerly awaits safe harbors from civil monetary penalties for noncompliance with Section 111 MMSEA reporting. Until we have those safe harbors, entities that report to CMS face uncertainty with regard to their actions and inactions in reporting.

Further uncertainty that will hopefully be clarified in the next few years is what, if anything, liability insurance carriers need to do to protect Medicare’s future interest. While it is relatively clear that liability carriers are not required to establish a liability Medicare Set-Aside, Medicare beneficiaries may be without benefits related to their injury when their settlement is reported to CMS.

13. Of the many things you have learned in your career, what would you pass on to someone just entering the industry?

I would tell them to be ready to grow and adapt; the industry is ever-changing and if you are not adept to change, it is not the industry for you. I am lucky to be the leader of our legal department at Franco Signor, and I counsel our attorneys on the fact that they need to always be on the lookout for different ways that we can provide value to the company as well as current and prospective clients. Ideally, and to succeed in this industry, you want to be that go-to person for a client with their MSP compliance concerns and questions.

14. What is the favorite thing you do as Chief Legal Officer at Franco Signor?

I love the people-facing nature of the role. Over the years, one of my favorite aspects of being a legal MSP compliance expert is blogging/writing and speaking on the topic and latest changes from Medicare. The most rewarding compliment that I actually receive quite often about my writing and speaking is that I communicate in a way that makes a very complex topic easy and simple to understand. I am very proud of that.

15. On a professional level, what factors motivate you on a daily basis?

My personal motto is that if you aren’t growing, you are dying.  Because I love a challenge and I always want to continue growing and getting better at what I do, I am always looking for new challenges. I came to work for Franco Signor because I perceive the organization to be the best in the MSP compliance industry and I am proud to be a part of it. Ultimately, I want myself and the legal team at Franco Signor to be a large contributing factor in the company’s success and growth.

16. What is your favorite fiction book, and non-fiction book?

I typically don’t read fiction books, though recently I have been reading a book called The Blockbuster Drug by Gary Reed. The book was given to me by Roy Franco (Founding Partner and Chief Client Officer of Franco Signor). It’s a fiction book that tells the story of a M.D. working in a large insurance company, trying to find the link between a pharmaceutical drug and a rare cancer.

My favorite non-fiction book is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. It is a short, concise, and easy to read (and re-read) book discussing the principles of the Law of Attraction. As hokey as it may sound, I truly believe in positive thinking and visualization as a path to achieving goals and meeting objectives. In times of my life where I have desired growth and change, I have re-read the book to motivate and inspire me. 

17. What historical figure(s) do you look up to and why?

Anne Frank. My family lost a great deal of relatives in the Holocaust, and my grandmother is a survivor of Auschwitz so I have a familial connection to her story. I read Anne Frank’s diary growing up and it was one of my favorite books. Just a few years ago, I was able to visit her apartment in Amsterdam. Her diary is truly inspiring as she kept such a positive attitude despite going through such a hardship at the time.

18. If you could hire any famous person to be the spokesperson for Franco Signor, who would it be and why?

Tony Robbins. He is an excellent speaker and can communicate concepts unlike anyone I have ever seen. 

19. How important is Social Media to Franco Signor?

Social Media is important for Franco Signor to utilize in sharing news and updates on MSP compliance, but I believe there is a fine balance there. We post blogs and update Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn where there is something newsworthy to share, but we try to not bombard anyone’s newsfeed and inboxes. Those that follow our social media and blogs should know that when we put something out into cyberspace, we believe it to be important news.

20. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

I absolutely love London. It has all of the perks of a big city like New York, but at the same time is incredibly rich in history. Somehow it has that balance of modern and old at the same time that I am not sure any city in the world could match.

 

About Heather:

As Franco Signor’s Chief Legal Officer, Heather is responsible for leading corporate strategic and tactical legal initiatives. In her role, she works internally with staff and externally with clients to facilitate MSP Compliance, namely to provide compliance counseling on Conditional Payment Negotiations, Mandatory Insurer Reporting, Medicare Set-Asides, and all other areas within MSP Compliance. Heather is charged with the drafting and negotiating of corporate contracts, the definition and development of corporate policies and provides continuing counsel on all corporate legal matters. Heather also oversees and directs Franco Signor’s team of attorneys.

Heather is a regularly published author and national speaker on MSP compliance. Her articles have been featured in publications such Risk & Insurance, workerscompensation.com, WorkCompWire and WorkComp Central. Prior to joining Franco Signor, Heather held previous roles as Corporate Counsel for both Helios and Gould & Lamb.

Heather has a Juris Doctorate degree from St. Thomas University School of Law and also an undergraduate degree in Political Science from The University of Central Florida. She is a member of the Florida Bar and holds the following certifications: Medicare Set-Aside Consultant Certified (MSCC), Certified HIPAA Privacy Expert (CHPE), Certified Litigation Management Professional (CLMP), and Certified Medicare Secondary Payer Professional (CMSP).

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