ABA Health eSource
July 2010 Volume 6 Number 11

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

David HilgersCongratulations are due once again to the volunteers, leaders and staff of the Health Law Section for the 9th successful Annual Physician-Legal Issues Conference in Chicago. On June 10th, a sold-out program convened, with both outstanding programs and presenters. This program is our annual one-day, fly-in/fly-out program focusing solely on physician issues. This allows the participants to fly in on Wednesday night, secure a full-day’s CLE and return to their homes on Thursday evening. It is a highly focused program, bringing in-depth evaluation on the legal issues facing attorneys representing physicians.

It is intentionally timed to coincide with the annual AMA meeting that convenes in Chicago on approximately the same weekend. This coordination of our program with the AMA results in the attendance of a number of physicians and physician-attorneys, bringing a useful and valuable perspective to the discussions at the conference. Additionally, this allows us to gain the participation of some of the legal experts in the AMA Office of General Counsel, giving us their insights. This year we were lucky enough to have Catherine I. Hanson, Vice-President of the AMA’s Private Sector Advocacy & Advocacy Resource Center, as a speaker. Catherine has been very involved in healthcare reform and was able to provide a unique and in-depth perspective of the impact of reform on physicians.

Another traditional aspect of this program is the participation of federal regulatory representatives from CMS and the OIG. This year Joan Dailey from the Office of General Counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Julie Taitsman, M.D. of the Office of Inspector General, gave frank and candid assessments of the major issues in Stark and anti-kickback enforcement. Particular emphasis was also placed on the new relationships evolving in healthcare between physicians and hospitals. Two important sessions were dedicated to handling difficult problems with disruptive or impaired physicians, particularly in the hospital setting, as well as integrative training to help physicians better resolve disputes between themselves and other members of the healthcare industry. Both sessions brought together academic and private practice perspectives to discuss these very important issues.

One of the best facets of this program is its relative small size, which allows for vigorous questioning and participation by the audience, both during the sessions and after. The attendees can bring a great deal of knowledge on their own and require the presenters to really “know their stuff.”

We all thank the Planning Committee, which included Janis Anfossi, Almeta E. Cooper, Tom Curtis, William Mathias, Robert Portman, Julian Rivera, and Claudia Jones-Sanders for their work on the Committee. Of course, special thanks to Sidney Welch, who was the chair of that Committee, along with being chair of the Physician Law Interest Group of the Health Law Section. And, of course, the wonderful and marvelous ABA staff—Sena Leach, Simeon Carson, Abbey Palagi and Jill Peña—was, as usual, at the top of their game.

We look forward to seeing many of you again there next year.

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