ABA Health eSource
 March 2007 Volume 3 Number 7

Chair's Column
by Paul R. DeMuro, Latham & Watkins LLP, San Francisco, CA

Paul R. DeMuroWow!!!!! If you did not have the opportunity to join us in Orlando for our 8th Annual Emerging Issues Conference, you certainly missed many very high quality educational sessions, and the opportunity to network with almost 300 of your colleagues from across the country. The setting was delightful; the weather most pleasant, even for this transplanted San Franciscan, not too hot and not too cold. Many thanks go out to Bill Horton and Hilary Young as chairs for the conference, their planning committee and the Interest Group leadership which spent countless hours putting together a program which received rave reviews and was certainly first rate.

From the pre-conference sessions, to the Young Lawyers' cocktail reception, to the plenary and break out sessions, what a fantastic program. We celebrated the hard work of the committee, the Interest Groups and other leaders at a delightful reception on Thursday evening, and on Friday morning, I was given the opportunity to invite more members to get involved to contribute with their colleagues. The section staff, Jill, Sena, Adam and Abbey did their usual wonderful job in making everyone feel welcomed.

I paid particular attention to the friendly atmosphere which existed at the breaks, Interest Group luncheons and cocktail receptions. People were making a true effort to make sure that others were not just standing around by themselves. I met a number of new friends, and renewed some acquaintances of over 10 years ago. The greater diversity of our speakers and international flavor of some of our programs was particularly important to me, and certainly reflects the efforts of our leadership at inclusiveness over the last few years and the work of our planning committee.

Although I think I have always appreciated how important physicians are in our delivery system, many of the sessions seemed to reinforce this fact. Emergency Department coverage, specialty hospitals, dispute resolution between plans and providers, electronic health records, hospital syndications and mediation skills were all major topics at the conference.

I have sometimes echoed the sentiments of a person I heard speak many years ago, that all you need for the basis of a healthcare delivery system is a physician and a patient, and that is now the basis of our system. Although this remains true today, many physicians wonder how the system became so complicated. Their dealings or non-dealings with the Medicare, Medicaid and managed care programs almost always result in their frustration in some respects. Some commentators suggest that as physicians express their unhappiness with the state of healthcare in the U.S. (actually, in other countries, they also express their unhappiness and frustration too), the best and brightest will not go into medical school, leaving us with a shortage of physicians of the highest quality just as the baby boomers need quality physicians the most.

David Hilgers and the planning committee, (Almeta Cooper, Tom Curtis, Bill Hopkins, and Rob Portman) for our Physician-Legal Issues Conference in Chicago on June 22 have put together a first rate program for all whose practices involve physicians in some way. This conference always presents a quick, thorough examination of physician practices and the problems facing attorneys who represent them. Lew Morris, General Counsel of the OIG, will again present the OIG's issues for physicians. Additionally the topics for the day will include examinations of off-label prescribing for doctors, evolving managed care problems, the development of ancillary services for doctors, hospital/physician joint ventures and medical staff problems. We hope that you will be able to join us for this one day conference at the ABA Conference Center at the American Bar Association Headquarters in downtown Chicago. It promises to be a very important educational event...and by that time, I promise you, that Chicago will have thawed out.

Thoughts, concerns, observations ... My email address is paul.demuro@lw.com.

My best regards and thanks for reading.

Paul R. DeMuro