ABA Health eSource
January 2010 Volume 6 Number 5

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

David Hilgers2010 promises to be an industry-changing year for healthcare. It is all but certain that legislation will be passed that lays the groundwork for substantial changes in healthcare insurance and delivery. Physician-hospital relationships will evolve into new structures with groundbreaking implications. Quality and evidence-based medicine protocols will continue to develop, raising numerous due process and legal questions. It is appropriate that all of this change comes in 2010, the beginning of the next decade. Clearly, the healthcare industry in the United States in 2020 will be fundamentally different than it is in 2010.

Now, after the legislation the primary challenge for health care lawyers is: How can we remain up to date in our understanding of both the industry and the law given these monumental changes?

Fortunately, the ABA Health Law Section has part of that answer. Since it is the beginning of a new year, the annual Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law Conference is upon us. Scheduled for February 17-19 at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, this conference is aimed directly at those legal issues that will emerge in the next decade. There are specific sessions on healthcare reform and what it will mean for all of us, including the importance of state legislatures and regulations in the operation of the federal system. There will be a number of sessions on quality of care and the development of evidence-based medicine protocols along with groundbreaking topics such as social media marketing in healthcare and a “rethinking of physician-hospital relationships.” In addition, the most recent developments and trends in fraud and abuse enforcement, managed care reimbursement, qui tam provisions, and privacy rules will all be addressed in various sessions.

However, this is not just a conference for experienced healthcare lawyers. The first afternoon of this conference on Wednesday, February 17th, will be devoted to fundamental concepts in health law and focused on law students and newer lawyers who want to develop their knowledge and expertise in this area of law. In fact, the first reception of the conference on Wednesday will be to honor young lawyers involved in healthcare.

One of the most valuable opportunities for participants at Emerging Issues Conference is the Interest Group lunches, which occur on both Thursday and Friday. These gatherings are opportunities to meet the Interest Group leaders and determine how each of you can become involved and participate in the activities of the Interest Groups. These sessions are educational and provide great opportunities for your participation in the Section and the Interest Groups. As an added value to the Conference this year, the ABA Health Law Section is hosting one of its pro bono projects with the breast cancer legal advocacy workshop. On Wednesday morning interested lawyers will hear the experts discuss the legal problems faced by victims of breast and other cancer. It is an eye-opening and valuable presentation for anyone interested in the obstacles faced by patients dealing with the healthcare system.

Of course, it goes without saying that the location of this year’s conference is an opportunity for those of you in the frozen north to warm up in Phoenix. February is a marvelous time in the desert, and Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is a wonderful place to spend that time. On Saturday you can participate in the 11th Annual Margarita Cup Golf Scramble, hosted by the Section, at which otherwise unknown and inexperienced golfers can win tournament honors depending on the luck of the draw with their assigned golf partners. Finally, the Margarita Cup reception culminates the conference with food, drinks and the highly irreverent awarding of the golf tournament trophies.

The Planning Committee of the Conference, headed by Shannon Hartsfield Salimone and Hilary Young, has done another outstanding job developing the topics and attracting outstanding speakers. This is probably the first opportunity of the decade to get a solid foundation of knowledge regarding the imminent changes in the healthcare industry. Plus, it can be done in a wonderful environment with interesting and interested colleagues. Hope to see you there!

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