April 14, 2015 Articles

American Bar Association House of Delegates Update: Spring 2015

The House of Delegates adopted recommendations that may be of interest to healthcare litigators.

By Grant Killoran

At the Midyear and Annual Meetings of the American Bar Association (ABA) each year, the House of Delegates meets to consider policy initiatives proposed by the various sections of the ABA. Many of these proposals come from the Section of Litigation and the Health Law Section. The House is the policy-making body for the ABA and is made up of 560 members representing state and local law associations, ABA entities, and ABA-affiliated organizations.

The House again convened at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston, Texas, on February 9, 2015, and considered a number of recommendations, including those reprinted below, that may be of interest to health care litigators and to young lawyers.

Report 100
The ABA Health Law Section and ABA Commission on Law and Aging submitted a recommendation supporting legislation and regulation that promotes access to and financing of high-quality, comprehensive long-term supportive services for persons with advanced illness, and urging the development and implementation of innovations that prioritize person-centered care planning and coordination, home-based supportive services, palliative care, expanded research in delivery practices and standards, greater workforce development, effective health information technology, and payment mechanisms that support these elements:

RESOLVED, That the ABA urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to enact legislation and regulation that will promote the following components in the provision of care to persons with advanced illness:

1. Finance and payment mechanisms that support access to person-centered care coordination and care management across the care settings, providers, medical conditions, and stages of treatment and support;

2. care planning through counseling and meaningful discussion of prognosis, goals of care, personal values, and treatment preferences, including planning for family caregivers’ needs;

3. Access to palliative care, community-based supportive services, and caregiver support to enable persons with advanced illness to remain in the home and community in accord with their preferences and needs;

4. Expanded research to improve care delivery and payment practices that will benefit individuals and families facing advanced illness;

5. A strong health care workforce educated and equipped with the clinical and social skills to serve people with advanced illness and their families and caregivers; and

6. Health information technology that promotes advance care planning and effective information sharing across time, place, and provider.

This recommendation was adopted by the House.

Report 102
The ABA Standing Committee on Specialization submitted a recommendation requesting that the ABA grant reaccreditation to the Civil Trial Advocacy and Social Disability Law programs of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, to respond to a need to regulate certifying organizations:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association reaccredits for an additional five-year term the following designated specialty certification programs for lawyers:

Civil Trial Advocacy program of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification; and

Social Security Disability Law program of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.

This recommendation was adopted by the House.

Report 103B
The ABA National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws submitted a recommendation seeking approval of the Uniform Recognition of Substitute Decision-Making Documents Act to demonstrate to states that the act is an appropriate approach for providing legal recognition of foreign substitute decision-making documents (e.g., powers of attorney, proxies, and representation agreements) while protecting persons asked to accept those documents from liability for good-faith compliance:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association approves the Uniform Recognition of Substitute Decision-Making Documents Act, promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, as an appropriate Act for those states desiring to adopt the specific substantive law contained in the Act.

This recommendation was adopted by the House.

Report 110
The ABA Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness, the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, and ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty submitted a recommendation urging (i) federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial authorities and legislative bodies to proactively identify and address the special needs of vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by disasters and to provide appropriate funding; and (ii) lawyers to participate in community planning to help ensure that plans comport with legal requirements applicable to services and benefits offered to disaster survivors, especially the most vulnerable:

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, tribal and territorial authorities to identify and address the special needs of vulnerable populations, including but not limited to individuals with disabilities, children, the frail, elderly, homeless persons, domestic violence victims, undocumented persons, the impoverished, and persons with language barriers, when planning for and responding to disasters.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That Congress, state legislatures, territorial legislatures, tribal and local authorities should adequately fund departments and entities charged with responding to and assisting disaster survivors to cover the increased and unique needs of and disparate impact upon vulnerable populations in planning for, responding to, and recovering from major disasters.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That lawyers should participate in community-wide disaster planning activities to ensure that plans comply with legal and regulatory requirements applicable to the provision of government services and benefits to all disaster survivors, and to identify and help address gaps in policy, practice, and regulation that disproportionately and adversely affect vulnerable populations in times of major disaster.

This recommendation was adopted by the House.

Report 106
The ABA Young Lawyers Division submitted a recommendation encouraging law schools to offer comprehensive debt counseling and debt management education to all currently admitted and enrolled law students, and encouraging bar associations to offer similar debt counseling and debt management education to young lawyers and newly admitted lawyers. This recommendation was adopted by the House.

For more information regarding these resolutions, as well as the other resolutions discussed by the House at the 2015 ABA Midyear Meeting, please visit the ABA website.

Keywords: litigation, health law, American Bar Association, Substitute Decision-Making Documents Act, healthcare

Grant Killoran is the coeditor of the ABA Section of Litigation Health Law Litigation newsletter and is one of the State Bar of Wisconsin's Delegates to the ABA House of Delegates. Grant is a partner at O'Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing S.C. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Copyright © 2015, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).