ABA Health eSource
December 2009 Volume 6 Number 4

Chair's Column
By David W. Hilgers, Brown McCarroll, L.L.P., Austin, TX

David HilgersIn September, I alerted you to the wonders of the Washington Healthcare Summit on October 26th and 27th. Now I have to tell you that I told you so. Once again the Planning Committee and its leaders, Robert Friz and Kirk Nahra, assembled an excellent program despite the frenetic fixation of D.C. on healthcare reform. There were many highlights of the program, but we very much appreciated Mark Hayes, the health policy director and chief health counsel minority staff of the Senate Finance Committee, giving some of his very limited time to kick off the program with an update on the state of healthcare reform. Mark’s presentation was followed by a keynote address by Judy Feder from the Georgetown School of Public Policy, which gave us a different slant on the issues that face the House and the Senate in trying to secure healthcare reform. Another highlight was the luncheon presentation by Paul Begala, on the political fallout from healthcare reform, which was both entertaining and objective. Given the proximity of healthcare reform, many of the sessions touched on this issue, including a discussion of healthcare reform from the industry perspective, which included representatives from America’s Health Insurance Plans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association.

In addition to the very thorough review of healthcare reform, there were other crucial and timely programs on false claims enforcement, community benefit standards, the industry’s relationship to teaching and research institutions, and a [they were all interesting] presentation by David Blumenthal, National Coordinator, Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, on the HIT challenges for the healthcare industry. We were also honored to have the Attorney General of Virginia, William C. Mims, to speak to a plenary session on healthcare issues facing states. General Mims [is that what he’s called? If so, ok. If in doubt, we can say ‘He’. Actually, he is called General Mims] was both gracious and informative.

Every year the Washington Healthcare Summit consistently provides some of the most helpful and informative programs on healthcare policy in both Washington and the fifty states. Additionally, as I indicated in my prior column, D.C. in the fall is a wonderful place to visit. We had several absolutely gorgeous days, which made the Summit all the more enjoyable. Thanks again to the Planning Committee, Rob Friz, Kirk Nahra, and of course, the outstanding ABA staff, Jill Pena, Sena Leach, Abbey Palagi, and Simeon Carson.

For those of you who missed the Washington Summit, you can obtain many of the papers that were presented at the ABA website in CLE Products. However, you will have another opportunity to obtain cutting edge legal education in a wonderful venue at the upcoming Emerging Issues and Healthcare Law Conference at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, Arizona on February 17 through 19, 2010. This is one of the ABA Health Law Section’s premier live conferences. This program deals with some of the most “emerging” issues in healthcare law. This year the Program Committee is beginning on the afternoon of the 17 th with a program specifically aimed at young lawyers and others needing a review of the fundamentals of healthcare law. We also plan to have an opportunity for both law students and young lawyers to be introduced to the ABA Health Law Section and its leadership with advice on how they might get involved with the Section. This will be followed on the 18th and 19th with the usual outstanding programs with valuable information on very specific issues facing most healthcare practitioners. Also, this will very likely be the first live program that will have to deal with healthcare reform after it has passed. There is a program on tap to discuss what’s actually in the final healthcare reform bill; or, if there is not one, the implications of its failure.

Of course, it is also possible to stay over on Saturday, the 20th, to join many of the Health Law Section members in a very informal golf tournament with the Health Section in the lovely Phoenix weather. This is another outstanding program at a great location. Please make your plans to be there.

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