ABA Health eSource
July 2009 Volume 5 Number 11

Chair's Column
by Vickie Yates Brown, Frost Brown Todd LLC, Louisville, KY

Vickie Yates BrownThe ABA Annual meeting will begin later this month. Besides continuing education sessions, section and committee meetings and numerous social functions, an important component of the meeting will be the meeting of the House of Delegates. One of the functions of the House of Delegates is to establish ABA policy on issues brought forward to the House.

The Health Law Section has a Report and Recommendation which will be considered by the House concerning the establishment of guidelines for the pharmaceutical industry and conflicts of interest. We have sent the Report and Recommendation to other groups in the ABA and look forward to their co-sponsorship.

The Section is also drafting a Report and Recommendation on comparative effectiveness which it hopes to introduce as a late report to the House of Delegates. The Section’s Report and Recommendation is timely. Comparative effectiveness has arisen as an important aspect in the health care reform debate. In late 2007 and 2008 certain commentators and an Institute of Medicine report argued for a national research initiative to achieve greater effectiveness and value in health care interventions. Both presidential candidates embraced this initiative during the 2008 election campaign. President Obama provided momentum when he signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) which allocated $1.1 billion to support comparative effectiveness research (CER) and the creation of a federal comparative effectiveness research council. The IOM was asked to seek input from stakeholders on CER ARRA funding priorities. On June 30, 2009, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) funding priority report was issued which recommended 100 health care topics that should be given priority funding through the ARRA.

Besides the funding priority recommendation, the report established the following two-sentence definition for CER:

Comparative effectiveness research is the conduct and synthesis of research comparing the benefits and harms of different interventions and strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat and monitor health conditions in “real world” settings. The purpose of this research is to improve health outcomes by developing and disseminating evidence-based information to patients, clinicians, and other decision-makers, responding to their expressed needs, about which interventions are most effective for which patients under specific circumstances.

It will be interesting to see how the definition will be analyzed, particularly by those segments of the health care industry which historically have had concerns about practice parameters, “cookbook medicine” and use of practice guidelines as method to ration rather than improve health care services.

As the Section considers the definition and the funding priorities coming out of this report in preparing its Report and Recommendation for the House of Delegates, I think it will be considering one of the most important aspects of health care reform. This issue is one that will be driven by the collection of data – data that will establish cost as well as effectiveness. How will that balance between cost and effectiveness be determined? The work of the Section in making recommendations for ABA policy on these important aspects of health care reform has huge societal ramifications. I will keep you informed as the Section’s drafting Committee prepares its Report and Recommendation on this important issue.

As ABA members we know we are in the midst of summer when the ABA annual meeting is approaching. For me, summer means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm. One of my favorites is fresh corn.

Corn tastes great cooked on the cob, in a black bean and corn salsa seasoned with fresh cilantro and lime juice, or if you are from the South, fried in salted butter. However, one of my favorite indulgences is corn pudding. My favorite recipe for corn pudding is the one served at Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Beaumont Inn’s recipe has all of the qualities I am looking for in corn pudding – the right balance of sweetness and saltiness as well as a generous amount of pudding on top of the layer of corn. If you are ever visiting central Kentucky, I recommend the Beaumont Inn as a lovely place to stay both for the ambience as well as the food. Beaumont Inn is Kentucky’s oldest family-operated country bed and breakfast inn. It is as though you are living in another age and a gentler time when you are there.

Beaumont Inn's Famous Corn Pudding
This is a regional favorite and is one of the Inn’s most often requested recipes.

2 cups white whole kernel corn, or fresh corn cut off the cob
4 eggs
8 level tablespoons flour
1 quart milk
4 rounded teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt

Stir into the corn, the flour, salt, sugar, and butter. Beat the eggs well; put them into the milk, then stir into the corn and put into a pan or Pyrex dish. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.

Stir vigorously with long prong fork three times, approximately 10 minutes apart while baking, disturbing the top as little as possible.

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