ABA Health eSource February 2011
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February 2011 Volume 7 Number 6

Chair's Column
By Linda A. Baumann, Arent Fox LLP, Washington, DC

Health Law Developments

Healthcare Reform: The Latest Installments
On Jan. 19, 2011, the House passed legislation (H.R. 2) to repeal the healthcare reform law. Similar legislation subsequently was introduced in the Senate but was defeated on Feb. 2, 2011. In any event, the President would almost certainly have vetoed any wholesale repeal of health care reform. However, Congressional Republicans are threatening to withhold funds needed for implementation, to introduce legislation to repeal specific provisions and to hold oversight hearings. Meanwhile, the focus has shifted to the courts. Although two federal courts have upheld the law's constitutionality, two others have declared all or part of it unconstitutional. Ultimately, the issue likely will be decided by the Supreme Court.

The President’s New Executive Order
Since we work in an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare, it’s not surprising that most of us spend a substantial part of our work day (and night) poring over government regulations: identifying those that are applicable and then trying to determine exactly which type of conduct is permitted and which is prohibited. For that reason, President Obama’s new Executive Order (E.O.) on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review issued on Jan. 18, 2011 likely will catch your attention, at least initially. The call for flexible approaches, public participation in the regulatory process and retrospective review of existing regulations to modify or repeal those that are outmoded, excessively burdensome, ineffective or insufficient is very appealing. I suspect a substantial number of our members, if not a majority, could easily point out at least one set of health law regulations that should be subject to such scrutiny and subsequent improvement.

However, despite the political machinations with the GOP claiming credit and certain liberal groups criticizing President Obama for allowing the GOP to frame the debate, the new E.O. itself points out that it is consistent with and supplements E.O. No. 12866, promulgated by President Clinton in 1993. For example, the new E.O. calls on agencies to “seek the views of those who are likely to be affected, including those who are likely to benefit from and those who are potentially subject to such rulemaking” before issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking. E.O. No. 12866 had similar language. Perhaps the more important question is whether the new E. O. actually will be implemented in a meaningful way and needed changes will be made.

The new E.O. indicates that the public generally has the opportunity to be part of this dialogue. However, as an entity, the ABA Health Law Section (“the Section”), likely can have an even greater impact on these issues by sharing the collective expertise of our members. For this reason, I am very pleased to report the significant strides the Section is already making in developing thoughtful position papers and approaching agency officials so we can be part of the process, as appropriate. I encourage those of you who are interested to join these ongoing efforts or to suggest new areas that we may want to consider exploring. Bill Horton, the Chair of the Section’s Policy Review and Coordination Committee is doing a terrific job heading up this effort, which he described as a Guest Columnist in the last issue of eSource. If you’d like to learn more about and/or participate in these efforts, that column is a must read.

The HLS Emerging Issues Conference – Something for Everyone

Exceptional Substantive Programs
By now, you should have received a copy of the brochure for our Emerging Issues Conference to be held in New Orleans on Feb. 23-26. As always, the program is broad reaching and innovative with a terrific group of expert speakers. Many thanks to Hilary Young, Joyce Hall and the EMI Planning Committee for their outstanding efforts.

Attend a Few IG Meetings
In addition to the substantive programs, all of our Interest Groups (IGs) and Task Forces will be holding educational sessions/lunches at EMI. This is your chance to meet your colleagues and see how you can get involved in the many IG activities. You can attend any IG meeting(s); you don’t have to be a member. In addition, on Wed. Feb. 23 at 9:00am, those of you who are interested will have the opportunity to participate in the CLE sponsored by the Breast Cancer Task Force which will prepare you to counsel breast cancer patients on the legal issues they face as a result of their condition and treatment. This is one of the Section’s major pro bono initiatives, and it won the Section Officers Conference Meritorious Service Award last year. Click here for more information.

Get the Inside Scoop: Attend Section Business Meetings
There are several innovations this year at EMI. First, as indicated in the brochure, a number of Section business meetings, including the Council meeting on Saturday Feb. 26 at 9.00 am, will be held at EMI and all Section members are invited to attend.

Enjoy the Weekend in New Orleans
The EMI Planning Committee also has planned a number of fun activities for those of you who can stay over to enjoy the weekend in New Orleans. On the afternoon of Feb. 26 (Saturday), you can sign up and join other Section members in taking a New Orleans cooking class, touring the World War II Museum or playing in the Section’s Annual Margarita Cup. There’s always a great party Saturday night in the Chair’s Suite and if you’re a Section member, you and your family are invited!

Preview of Upcoming New Section Developments

International Health Law
A new international health law group is in the works. In light of the increasing globalization of various health law issues and Section member support, a group will be exploring the best way for Section members to pursue their interests in international health law issues.

In-House Counsel
In an effort to best serve all of our members, a group will be surveying our in-house counsel members to determine how the Section can best meet their needs.

Other ABA Opportunities
We have been trying to highlight the wide variety of potential activities available to you as a member of the Section. I wanted to close by noting the information in this edition of eSource about ABA Presidential Appointments. These opportunities to participate in other ABA commissions and committees outside the Section are a great way to get the most out of your membership. These can be very competitive positions but we can’t nominate you unless we know you’re interested so please click here to learn more or contact Simeon Carson at simeon.carson@americanbar.org if you would like more information.

 


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