The Health Law Section of the Florida Bar was established in 1988. It was originally created as a committee of the Florida Bar, between and among the limited practitioners who practice what was theretofore unrecognized as a specialty, being Health Law. Once the Committee reached the minimum size to become a section, it applied and received Section status from the Board of Governors.
The objectives initially was collegiality between health care practitioners and as a means of discussing areas of concern, since there were very few resources about health law, unlike today. Even though the Bar approved the Section, for many years there was much resistance from the Board of Governors, who primarily were comprised of litigators, since they perceived that the Section’s mission was to reduce the statute of limitations for malpractice claims, thereby endangering their practice of suing hospitals and doctors. It took many years to convince them that the Section had other intentions. Over the years, the Section took positions on proposed legislative matters, created the Board Certification in Health Law program, CLE programs, began to actually recognize that there were sub-areas within health law, and sought members who practice in the various disciplines, such as Administrative Law for Certificate of Need matters, Labor and Employment, etc.
Growth was slow but blossomed as health law became recognized as a specialty unto itself, and as national organizations, such as the former National Health Lawyers Association and former American Health Lawyers Association grew (they have since merged to be what is now known as the American Health Law Association), a need for focus on state specific law, rather than national law issues, caused the Section to grow and focus on Florida health law.
The effort to become a formal section of the Florida Bar was led by individuals, such as A. Budd Cutler who was the first chair as a committee, Barbara Pankau and Chris Rolle. The section successfully organized a specialty examination, which would allow qualified health law attorneys to designate themselves as specialists in the field. The Class of 1995 was the first group of lawyers to attain this designation.
As the Section evolved, we provided speakers to the Florida Bar’s programs, co-sponsored programs with the Bar, for example, with the Tax Section in “Representing the Physician”, placed member on the Certification Committee and BLSE, etc.
Most recently, the Health Law section helped passed an amendment to revise the amendments to the Anti-Kickback Statute but has historically taken positions on legislative amendment proposals, rather than actively pursue our own legislative amendments.