I can imagine no indictment of modern regulation more powerful than the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals claiming vague pro-compliance statements by a company don't necessitate following the law, because even when you say you're investing in compliance and care a whole lot, the rules are so complex and ever-shifting that no reasonable reader could depend on those statements implying you're following the rules.

I know that sentence is a mouthful. Matt Levine (who is much smarter than I am) explains it in the tail end of a recent newsletter. The important part is here, in the actual court decision, and found when Control-F'ing for the comments about the "very possibility of maintaining adequate compliance" (without quotes) – which the court seems to doubt.

So, there are a couple problems here. What is the point of having a regulatory regime companies can't follow? I'm terrified that isn't a rhetorical question – it's possible we've designed a system, intentionally or otherwise, that gives regulators the power to strong-arm almost every extant business in their purview in order to get voluntary compliance on a number of requests that may not be justified by the statute.

This isn't the first time I've had this concern – although that was about banking regulation, not Medicare/Medicaid regulation like the above court decision. The core system at play seems remarkably similar, and I think anyone in either of those fields would confirm: it is adrift in a massive sea of compliance and paperwork.

I think it's time for a statement of principle: I am more concerned about government power than corporate power, if only because the government is orders of magnitude bigger than any corporation. I don't think all corporations should be at the blade's edge when it comes to regulatory oversight (and the oddly revealing term 'compliance' we use to describe it). It puts more power in the hands of the people who already have the most power.

But more importantly: you don't stop being a citizen when you become a doctor. People shouldn't be afraid of their government. That really stinks. And at the end of the day, the compliance team at Cigna is a bunch of humans, trying their best, not making promises they can't keep, but also sometimes making mistakes. They shouldn't be terrified of securities laws and HHS over every minute issue. Public forgiveness isn't just for down-on-their-luck veterans who stole a loaf of bread. It's something we do because it's a better society for everyone. And, as concerned as I am about the contents of that court opinion, I'm glad they made that decision.