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August 01, 2019 Chair's Column

What Is Your Why?

Alexandria McCombs, Chief Legal Officer, Signify Health, Dallas, TX

After digesting a few frogs — the metaphorical manifestation of the daunting tasks encircling my mind — this column is one bittersweet frog. I am writing my final column as Chair of the American Bar Association Health Law Section. 

It has been a humbling experience to share personal reflections on servant leadership, health and well-being, gratitude, and other meaningful topics with you. I am deeply honored for the opportunity to lead an organization committed to providing a sense of community to members of the Section, the profession, and the public as a whole.

Whether at work or at home, we are constantly prioritizing our lives. Sometimes we do so chronologically and even mechanically to mark off our to-do list. We apply the tax and accounting principles of FIFO (first in, first out) or LIFO (last in, first out) to our schedules. However, there are other times when we act deliberately and thoughtfully. We have reasons driving us to action.

I flew extensively during the past few months and recalled the commercial appearing repeatedly before each movie showing. The commercial heralds the “bookers” and the “doers” for creating their own stories, their own adventures, and their own meanings with one simple act: booking. The travel reservation symbolized the transformative intent to experience. And with experience comes knowledge, new perspectives, and a richer understanding of self-identity and purpose.  

My purpose this year was to reinforce the strong foundation of servant leadership with the ABA Health Law Section. Through our extraordinary staff led by Director Simeon Carson, my executive team comprised of Jay McEniry, Hal Katz, Clay Countryman, Adrienne Dresevic, and Hilary Young, Council members, and the entire 250+ volunteer leaders, we have accomplished many noteworthy things this year. They include:

  • Public comments on the Stark Law Request For Proposal, Interoperability Proposed Rule, and HIPAA Request For Information
  • A resolution on the use of opioid litigation settlement proceeds to fund community-based resources to address the epidemic
  • A resolution to urge Congress to reform the Stark Law
  • Co-sponsorship and production of the Anti-Stigma video campaign on mental health matters with the ABA’s Coalition on Lawyer Assistance Programs
  • Co-sponsorship with the ABA’s Senior Lawyer Division in the development of a Showcase CLE program on the opioid epidemic and pending litigation, featuring American Medical Association President-Elect Dr. Susan R. Bailey
  • The creation of the ABA’s Joint Opioid Task Force with the Senior Lawyers Division that looks to partner with the AMA in tackling the opioid epidemic
  • Development of the HL Well-byte section on health and well-being in the Section’s weekly HLbytes digest
  • The celebration of the 20th Annual Emerging Issues in Healthcare Conference, including a keynote address from Department of Health and Human Services’  Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan
  • A keynote address from Dr. Barbara L. McAneny, President of the AMA, at our Washington Health Law Summit
  • A name change for our Physicians Legal Issues Conference to Physicians Legal Issues: Healthcare Delivery & Innovation Conference, now moved to September 2019
  • The renewal of our Memorandum of Understanding with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)
  • The launch of a new mobile app now providing audio versions of all new articles for The Health Lawyer and the ABA Health eSource. Free for Section members!

Our incoming Chair, Jay McEniry, will no doubt inspire and innovate us into the future. As a leader, he has articulated his commander’s intent for the organization’s internal and external priorities. I am excited to support him and the Section as we continue to execute on our why. May the sun shine warmly upon your shoulder and the road rise up to meet you as you discover your why.