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ABA Health eSource
 October 2007 Volume 4 Number 2

Chair's Column
by Andrew J. Demetriou, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Andrew J. DemetriouThis past weekend, the leadership of our Section gathered in Nashville, Tennessee for our annual meeting of Interest Group leadership and our Fall Council meeting. As many of you know, Nashville has been the epicenter of a major revolution in the delivery of healthcare services. Springing from the original Hospital Corporation of America, a host of Nashville-based companies have emerged over the past 45 years--operating hospitals, psychiatric facilities, dialysis centers, surgery centers and skilled nursing facilities and supporting a variety of other healthcare institutions. The revolutionary aspect of this development is that these companies are largely for profit and publicly held corporations, thus different from non-profit and governmental providers who dominated the sector until the 1980s. A large cohort of lawyers, based in Nashville and elsewhere across the United States, serve this vibrant community and many leaders of the bar, including our Past Chair Howard Wall, have served as in-house counsel to these firms. We had not held a Section meeting in Nashville for over a dozen years, and I concluded that we were long overdue for a return. The hospitality shown by Howard and the Nashville community was outstanding and we held an extraordinary series of meetings, including small group meetings with local lawyers to encourage greater participation in the Section.

Our Interest Group Leaders meeting is always a highlight of the year, providing the opportunity for exchanges of valuable ideas and strategies for leadership of your Section. As our Interest Group leadership has grown in collective experience the character of these meetings has changed a great deal. No longer do we find ourselves having to rehearse basic information as to Section policies and activities. No longer is the collected group awaiting direction from the Officers and Council as to their basic mission and goals. Instead, the meeting featured groups of leaders who are well prepared to define and achieve their objectives for the year, in programs, publications, government submissions and public service. A number of terrific proposals for teleconferences emerged from the meeting and will be featured in the upcoming months.

This month's issue includes a good example of what our Interest Groups do during the course of each year. The article reflecting comments on the new IRS Form 990 is the product of months of work by Rob Friz, Chair of the Tax IG, and all of his leadership. This group submitted comments on the revised form in concert with the ABA Section of Taxation, and their work product reflected strong cooperation between the two Sections in addressing a very significant development for the tax bar. The IRS had expressed strong interest in knowing the views of the ABA on its revised form, and it is important achievement for us to participate with Tax Section on this project.

An important part of the meeting was the final development of plans for each group, including participation in activities such as membership development, publication services and technological improvements to provide member services. We also reviewed the great progress we have made in putting together our Emerging Issues Conference in San Diego for next February. Virtually all of the panels have been set at this point-- the earliest we have been so prepared in the ten years of EMIs. I hope you will be able to join us for this special event.

In spite of the great strides we have made in the capabilities of our Interest Groups, the fact remains that only about one in five members of the Section belong to one or more groups. I know that many of you realize the benefits of the fine work of our volunteers and I encourage you to consider joining an Interest Group that addresses the areas in which you regularly practice. Joining a group costs you nothing and I believe it will provide you with many tangible benefits--including close association and personal relationships with lawyers who can relate to your practice experiences. You can join through links on our website or contact Abbey Palagi of our Section staff. During EMI, each of our IGs will be holding a luncheon meeting, featuring a presentation as well as important information on pending projects and volunteer opportunities. Please take advantage of these gatherings, for your own sake and for ours.

I want to remind you of our upcoming Washington Health Summit, December 3-4 at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City. You should have already received a brochure for this program, which features an outstanding collection of speakers, including Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Martha Coakley, the Attorney General of Massachusetts. We also have a number of high level speakers from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice and many lawyers from within key agencies will be attending the conference. If your plans permit you to be in Washington, you will be well rewarded by participating in this event.

Our Stark III conference last month was very successful, with over 470 participants from across the country. The Section extends thanks to the fine panel of speakers, Lisa Ohrin, Patricia Meador, Drew Wachler and Bill Horton, and I especially wish to commend Drew on an excellent commentary on the new rules. We have released his work as a Special Edition of the Health Lawyer that should be on your desk by now. If you were unable to participate in the conference you can still obtain materials and a recording of the program through the website. We will also have a panel devoted to this topic at EMI in San Diego.

If you have not had a chance to do so, please visit our website at www.abanet.org/health/home.html. You can find information concerning our upcoming programs and events, articles and books, links to valuable governmental and private sector resources, and even a 90-second video clip that will introduce newcomers to the Section and its work. I am told that if you scroll up and down during the video the speaker's head bounces in an amusing way.