My classical background is never far away.1 The ancient Roman god, Janus (Ianus in classical Latin), always comes to mind at this time of year. He was the god of beginnings, transitions, time, and doorways. Many attribute the name of the month January to him because January is the beginning of the new year. Interestingly, Janus was depicted as having two faces,2 one looking back to the past and the other looking forward to the future. He resonates with our custom of pausing at the beginning of the new year to reflect on the past year and to commit to new resolutions as we move forward.
Looking back, 2017 has been an eventful year. It saw the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency. Our Health Law Section includes supporters and critics of the President. I do not intend to delve into the specific politics that have been rocking the country, but suffice it to say that we continue to be sharply divided. Anger, fear, and outrage have erupted on both sides of the aisle, and civil discourse is in short supply. The Democrats rammed the Affordable Care Act through in 2010 without a single Republican vote, and now the Republicans have done the same with a tax bill passed without a single Democrat in support. The year included flares of anger and senseless violence – mass shootings led by the tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and innocent people mowed down by vehicles in New York City and Charlottesville (not to mention similar attacks around the world). Mother Nature was determined not to be ignored with the widespread devastation inflicted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. And the tsunami of allegations of sexual harassment and assault bringing down powerful men has triggered a national examination of workplace behavior.
At the same time, people came together. Many have been energized to get involved in the political process. People dove in to help those impacted by the hurricanes. Scientists made progress in numerous areas, including advancement in detecting gravitational waves in space, in eradicating diseases like polio, in combatting antibiotic resistance, and in treating ALS, Alzheimer’s Disease, and autism. And on an upbeat note, many lit up social media together to celebrate that Prince Harry popped the question to American actress Meghan Markle and is planning a wedding for May 2018.
Looking ahead, the country is still divided and angry. The tax changes will be implemented to the satisfaction of some and the consternation of others. Republicans still have healthcare in their sights. The Trump administration is pursuing deregulation by reversing numerous rules and policies put in place during previous administrations, and in particular during the Obama years. Alabama is sending Doug Jones to the Senate, and both Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for the mid-term elections. But in the face of those tensions, people continue to work hard, pursue their goals, and love their friends and families.
The Section remained strong in 2017. Interest groups and planning committees produced excellent webinars, conferences, publications and tools to help you do your job well. The Health Law & Policy Coordinating Committee and the Health Reform Task Force monitored federal healthcare bills and provided bipartisan information to committees on the Hill. We have an outstanding group of leaders who are collegial and inclusive. They are continuing their work as we move into the new year.
So, as we move into 2018 with our many differences, the Health Law Section’s mission unites us with five goals:
- Serve an engaged and diverse membership;
- Educate and inform our members;
- Inform and impact health policy, legislation, and regulation;
- Serve the public; and
- Promote a diverse, effective leadership.
Let us resolve to do our part to make 2018 a productive year; to pursue the Section’s goals in the ways available to us; and to continue working together with the respect and regard that makes the Section a wonderful place to belong.
- My undergraduate major was Latin and History, and I taught high school Latin for several years before law school.
- See https://media1.britannica.com/eb-media/01/10701-004-D51B7F93.jpg.