ABA Health eSource
 February 2008 Volume 4 Number 6

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

Andrew J. DemetriouI hope that you're making plans to join fellow members of the Health Law Section at our 9th Annual Emerging Issues Conference in San Diego February 20-22—or better yet have already joined the growing list of registrants for this important conference. For those of us who have lived with EMI since its inception, the meeting will always enjoy a special place in our hearts. EMI was the brain child of our former Chair, and current Delegate to the House, Howard Wall, who saw a need for the Section to distinguish itself through the production of a high quality educational conference focusing on cutting edge developments in health law and policy. He had the foresight to suggest that the conference rotate between the East and the West in alternate years so that we could expose the Section's activities to lawyers in various states and thereby build membership. The success of EMI is a tribute to Howard's vision, as well as the insights and values brought to it by each succeeding Chair of the Section.

This year's EMI promises to be our best ever—and our early registration indicates that we may have 350 lawyers in attendance. The Planning Committee, ably co-Chaired by Hilary Young, Dave Flynn and Joel Wakefield, has worked very hard to line up an outstanding faculty. Each of our Interest Groups has contributed programs and identified leading speakers. The topics will include important public policy issues, such as access to healthcare, childhood obesity as a public health matter, Medicare's evolving policy on clinical trials and the new phenomenon of medical-legal partnerships that can help hospital patients obtain important legal advice affecting their eligibility for benefits and other matters incident to hospitalization. We will also have panels addressing the most important developments in tax and finance, business transactions, HIPAA, Stark III, operational issues between hospitals and their medical staffs (including payment for call coverage) and kickback issues arising from vendor relationships. As is customary, we will also offer the best hour of legal ethics that money can buy, for those who can manage to be upright and ambulatory at 8 am on Friday morning.

A special treat awaits anyone able to arrive on Wednesday afternoon. Our new Task Force on Breast Cancer Advocacy will be offering a training session for lawyers who wish to represent breast cancer patients and their families. As I mentioned in a prior column, this is an important initiative for our Section, and worthy of your attention. We are offering access to this program as a separately ticketed event for individuals who are not otherwise attending EMI and I am anticipating an excellent presentation and strong attendance.

A high point of any EMI is the gatherings of our Interest Groups, which will be holding lunch meetings during the Conference. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to network with other lawyers who share your interests and to get involved in Section projects. The Interest Group leaders put considerable thought into making these luncheon meetings fine educational programs in their own right, as well as working sessions, and I hope you will take advantage of these gatherings to get to know our Section leadership and volunteer to help us.

Perhaps most important, EMI represents the best opportunity of the year for informal social interaction among our members and guests. Our former Chair, Sara Keller, pioneered the idea of having a welcoming committee at each EMI and challenged the Section leadership to engage with new members. We have tried hard over the years to be faithful to Sara's calling and we will offer you variety of social activities as well as a convivial environment, and of course San Diego's wonderful weather. Even our program sessions have a light touch to them, and you never know when otherwise distinguished members of the bar might be caught singing karaoke, doing standup comedy or introducing the 8 am ethics session by impersonating Borat. Those of you who can remain for the weekend are more than welcome to participate in the Annual Margarita Cup Golf Scramble at the Riverwalk Course. Teams with greatly varying levels of talent will be engaged in mock serious competition for fabulous prizes and the right to have their triumphs and foibles exposed in good fun over cocktails on Saturday night.

As you can tell, I am a devoted fan of EMI and wish that each of you will have the wonderful experience of joining your fellow Section members at this year's meeting or one in the near future. See you in San Diego!