ABA Health eSource
April 2010 Volume 6 Number 8

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

David HilgersI have just returned from the most successful Emerging Issues Conference (EMI) in our Section’s history—successful from all perspectives. First, it was, of course, an outstanding CLE experience. It started on Wednesday morning with the Breast Cancer Legal Advocacy training session. At that meeting, experts spoke to over 40 participants regarding the many obstacles that face the victims of breast cancer. This program, and the others like it that we do throughout the country, have trained dozens of lawyers in this important area of legal advocacy. Wednesday afternoon was devoted to the fundamentals of healthcare, with almost 90 attendees having the opportunity to learn about the basic fundamentals of health care from the experts. On Thursday, the conference opened with a timely initial session discussing fraud and abuse enforcement from the point of view of the federal enforcers. The following sessions included discussions of electronic health records, crisis management, privacy and security rules, Medicaid contractors, and the legal implications in employee wellness plans, among other things. The topics were both varied and expertly delivered. It was an extraordinary opportunity to obtain significant healthcare education on most facets of the healthcare legal spectrum.

The Conference was also a success from the attendance standpoint. This was the largest Emerging Issues Conference ever. As you know, we try to keep this Conference relatively small in order to generate a collegial atmosphere. However, the number of attendees this year surprised us given this economic climate.

Despite the unexpected attendance, it was also a success from the collegiality perspective. Moreover, twenty-two law students also attended bringing a fresh perspective to the older, more experienced lawyers in attendance. There were numerous opportunities for lawyers of all experience levels to intermingle at well-attended receptions and Interest Group meetings. The good feeling coming from these opportunities for networking was palpable at the Conference.

The Conference was also a success in terms of the venue. Phoenix was a welcome relief to many of the survivors from the East Coast snowstorms—pleasantly warm with a dry desert climate. The venue sometimes made it difficult to sit indoors and some people played hooky as they visited the Scottsdale art fair and some of the Phoenix museums.

It was truly an outstanding experience for all. We have many to thank for this great success. First and foremost, we thank the speakers, who took the time and effort to come to Emerging Issues and keep us entertained and interested with their presentations. Next, the Planning Committee, under the leadership of Shannon Hartsfield Salimone and Hilary Young did an outstanding job. Tom Anthony, Ralph Dejong, Greg Demske, Kirk Dobbins, Denise Glass, Joyce Hall, Hal Katz, Alexandria McCombs, Conrad Meyer, Thomas Pedroni, Chris Sears, Tommy Smith, and Lisa Taylor worked diligently over the last year to make this happen. Finally, we cannot thank enough our great ABA Health Section staff—Jill Peña, Sena Leach, Abbey Palagi, and Simeon Carson, who once again did yeoman’s work in making sure that all of the attendees had a great experience. Thanks again to all of them. Next year we will redo the same fabulous conference, this time in New Orleans, February 23 – 25. You certainly should put it on your calendars and plan to be there.

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