American Health Law Association
By CINDY REISZ
Serving as a Resource for the Health Care Community
The American Health Law Association (AHLA) is the nation's largest, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) educational organization devoted to legal issues in the health care field. AHLA maintains excellence in health law by educating and connecting the health law community. My involvement with AHLA began in the mid-1990s as a consumer of their content and later as a volunteer and leader. I currently serve as president-elect and in June 2021 will begin my term as president.
AHLA plays an important role in serving as a professional resource on selected health care legal issues. Our membership is diverse - not only in background but also in practice areas and settings. We have representation from law firms, consulting firms, academic settings, in-house counsel, government, public health, compliance professionals, privacy officers, students and others. In our role as an educational organization, AHLA is focused on staying abreast of changes in the health care industry, and we provide legal expertise and professional development and support to our members and the public at large. Among our areas of focus for 2020 and beyond are the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care, the increasing use of new models of health care delivery such as telehealth, and addressing racial disparities in health care.
AHLA has gathered a group of thought leaders to present a convener on AI in early November. Participants will discuss elements of a trusted framework for the development of AI in health care, such as the use of AI to de-identify and analyze data in a HIPAA-compliant manner, and how to manage cybersecurity risks in the deployment of AI. The FDA has proposed a framework to regulate AI, and the convener participants will discuss and comment on the proposal along with other potential liability issues to which providers could be exposed if they use AI in clinical decision-making.
Another focus area for AHLA is the increasing use of telehealth in the provision of clinical services. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS and private payors temporarily loosened the restrictions on the use of telehealth by providers. Now that patients and clinicians have grown accustomed to incorporating telehealth into how they access and provide health care services, many in the health care industry believe it will be very difficult to reverse course and reinstate location and payment restrictions. AHLA is monitoring federal and state activity in the area and will continue to educate its members as changes are proposed through webinars, podcasts, articles and conference programs. (See related article on page xx.)
Craig Holden, the current AHLA president, has stated that one of his goals in his year as president is for AHLA to be a positive contributor to the dialogue on racial and other inequities in the provision of health care. AHLA has already released a podcast on "Racial Disparities in Health" and has featured several articles on topics such as "The Health Care Board Response to the Social Justice Environment," and "Law as a Social Determinant of Health and the Pursuit of Health Justice."
As AHLA continues to engage in the dialogue for social and racial justice, under my leadership we will host a convener session with noted thought leaders on "Health Care Racial Disparities and the Law." Out of this convener, AHLA will release a white paper and video project on aspects of health disparities and equity in health care, which could include the identification of areas of disparity (racial, gender, LGBTQ, disability, economic and others), social determinants of health and the impact on health risks for the population, institutional racism and other forms of bias in health care workforce diversity and its relationship to health outcomes. We at AHLA believe as an organization we are able to help effectuate change in the health care community as our country addresses racial injustice. I look forward to continuing the dialogue and education in my role as president-elect and later as president.
An active board member for the American Health Law Association, Cindy Reisz currently serves as president-elect for the national organization, Association is the nation's largest, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) educational organization devoted to legal issues in the health care field. The Nashville-based attorney is a partner at Bass, Berry & Sims PLC where her deep health care experience includes transactional and operational issues, along with expertise on the industry's complex regulatory environment. For more information, go online to americanhealthlaw.org.