This special series highlights AHLA leaders who discuss key moments in their careers, current and future trends in health law, and AHLA’s role in their professional development. In this episode, Chip Hutzler, Director, Horne LLP, speaks with Suzanne Scrutton, Partner, Vorys Sater Seymour & Pease LLP. Suzanne is a member of AHLA’s Board of Directors.
Suzanne talks about how her first job out of law school working for the Ohio state government proved useful to her current practice, her path to behavioral health law, being the main contact for the trade association representing providers for individuals with developmental disabilities, her advice for handling litigation with the government, and what her plaque will say when she is inducted into the “Health Law Rock Star Hall of Fame.”
Sponsored by HORNE.
To learn more about AHLA and the educational resources available to the health law community, visit americanhealthlaw.org.
In this special series, ALA leaders discuss key moments in their careers, current and future trends and health law, and Ally's role in their professional development support for ALA. And this series is provided by horn, which provides proactive guidance and strategies to enhance efficiency, improve patient experience, increase market share, and position you for greater success. Horn healthcare serves over 600 clients across 30 for more information, visit horn L p.com.Speaker 2:
Hello everyone. Welcome. And I wanted to welcome my guest today. My name is chip Husler from horn, and I wanna welcome my guest today, Suzanne Scrutton from the bores law firm, Suzanne, we really thank you for joining us. Glad to have you. And Suzanne is also a member of the HLA board. Glad you could be here with us today.Speaker 3:
Thank you so much, chip. Um, thank you for doing this and thanks for all that you do for the HLA.Speaker 2:
Oh, well, I appreciate that. And let's jump right in because the purpose here today is find out a little bit about you and how you got into health law and, and what sorts of things you want to tell people who are sort of thinking about the, having the same kind of track you've had. Tell me a little bit about how you got started in health long.Speaker 3:
Well, it was kind of a long and winding road right out of law school in 1989. I, I had always had a strong commitment to public service. So I actually worked in state government for about nine years before I went into private practice to the voice firm. And just to kind of fill in the blanks for that state service time. My first job out of law school was with the office of budget and management in Ohio. And, um, it sounds kind of an odd start to where I ended up, but actually, um, the skills that I learned in that first job, I've become very, very valuable in my daily practice, um, today. So I was, you know, just 25 years old and outta law school. And I worked in the state agency controls all the money. And so you learn, you know, where are the big ticket items in state government, including Medicaid. And so I learned a lot about, you know, human services. I dealt with a lot of, um, people that worked in the, the governor's office, um, had the opportunity to draft a lot of legislation and learn how state government worked and state financing like bond issuances and state revenue forecasts and things that all become very valuable. If you work in healthcare later on, um, stayed there for about five years. And then I, I, the governor's office asked me to take a position with the state drug and alcohol treatment and prevention authority. And that kinda led me on the path toward behavioral health, had a great opportunity to work there for several years. And at the time the state was working on a Medicaid waiver program for behavioral health services. And, um, we had a lot of meetings with the Medicaid folks and the Medicaid department, and I really learned all the inner workings of, um, the, the Medicaid program. And of course that's the main funding source for behavioral health services, uh, as it was then, and as it is today. So, um, great experience there. And, um, as time passed, I realized that a lot of the, the people that I worked with both at the office of budget management and, um, the state, uh, drug and alcohol authority, you know, they became really high level people. Some became cabinet director, someone went on to work in the governor's office. So we all kind of grew up together. And as I think about my practice today, you know, I still keep in touch with all those people. Um, it's very important to have access to people that will return your calls. I know it sounds like something simple, but when you work in a regulated industry trying to have, you know, lot of contacts, um, where people will, you know, respond to you and know that you have some credibility and when you say something and, you know, try to help your, our clients today, um, all those, um, experiences kind of added up and help me in my practice today. So then in 1997, I, um, the VO firm had started to have a significant practice in the behavioral health space. And there was one partner, uh, Ross Bridgeman. He was a prominent labor and employment lawyer who ended up, um, you know, know really starting the healthcare group at Boris. And he needed someone to help him. And I was his right hand person. And he, and along, along with another senior corporate partner, Chuck DEI, they were great mentors and, uh, just great individuals, you know, we would sit, you know, on calls, endless hours back when you would sit in an office with somebody. Um, so, um, right. Um, so I really learned a lot, um, from them about the way that people at Lori's practice and, um, it's very much a team concept. And, um, we, we ended up representing the behavioral health, health provider trade association, and we'd also had, um, that grew also into, um, representing the, um, developmental disability provider trade association and the children's hospital trade association. So when you represent all those trade associations, they have lots and lots of members and, you know, it kind of puts their imprimatur on the, your, your qualifications and, um, you kind of become the go-to person for, um, those providers. And so that, that was really, I, I really have a practice today that, and back it's grown into a practice where I represent what I would call specialty healthcare providers in developmental disabilities, behavioral health, and, you know, children's issues.Speaker 2:
That's great.Speaker 3:
That's the, that's the, the long story here.Speaker 2:
Yeah. That, uh, that was really interesting. And it sounds like you had a number of people inspired you along the way, mentors and so on. Is there any sort of one person you look to and say, well, boy, that's the person I was trying to be like as a lawyer, as a health lawyer, are they really inspired me to kind of keep going and doing this?Speaker 3:
I would say Ross Bridgeman. He, he was really my mentor and, um, you know, he always believed in me and was very supportive and she was very supportive of me, both professionally and personally, and, um, you know, a great lawyer. Um, we have different styles, but, um, we really complimented each other. So I didn't, I, I, you know, I never, I always knew I would never be exactly like him cause he has, you know, just a very giant personality and, um, you know, it's a little different than mine, but, um, but you know, um, I'm not for everyone and perhaps he's not for everyone, but we overall, we, you know, we, we made, we covered the yes. Perfect.Speaker 2:
Uh, speaking of that, what's, you've been working at HLA a while. What's your favorite place to visit? We go a lot of places of HLA from time to time. I know the last two years we haven't, but you know, let's, let's let everybody dream a little bit about where they're gonna visit in the next couple years.Speaker 3:
Hopefully I always, I always love going to New York city. I always think that's like really special and, you know, heart of Midtown and just, you know, a fabulous place to go. So I always dream about that. New Orleans is a new Orleans is a close second.Speaker 2:
Yeah, those are good choices, my goodness, nothing wrong with New York. Right. So was there any sort of moment along in your career you could say was sort of a pivotal moment that you would look to and I've looked back and say, yeah, that was a key moment when I realized I'm I'm doing the right thing, I'm in the right place. I'm helping somebody important, whatever it might have been.Speaker 3:
I think for me, it was when I took over as being the main contact for the trade association that represents providers for visuals with developmental disabilities. And, um, I learned, you know, I would attend all the, the board meetings and take, took the lead and really became the regulatory expert in that area. But also the, the people that, um, are in that world are very dedicated. Oftentimes have, um, someone in their family that might have a developmental disability and, um, just very committed, uh, people that, you know, really have their heart in the right place also. Um, you know, we've, we, uh, filed some litigation on behalf of both providers and consumers, um, and individuals with developmental disabilities. And those were all really me meaningful experiences for me.Speaker 2:
Yeah, sure. They were, what, what challenges have you faced as you've done this, have you, and you know, if you're thinking about others who wanna do this, what kind of advice would you give them based on some, some of those challenges you might have facedSpeaker 3:
You're, you're usually going against the government and the government has a lot of power and, um, so you have to be very strategic and, um, you know, thoughtful and, um, you know, try to work things out sometimes the only way to get the government to move. And I'm, I'm not an anti-government person, but I just face challenges cuz they have a lot of power and a lot of money, um, and almost endless resources. Um, you know, sometimes you do have to resort to litigation. So I just say, you know, um, make sure you are thought in a way that you proceed with the government, try to work things out, but you know, sometimes, uh, and sometimes litigation gives the government cover for things they know are the right things to do, but for various reasons they cannot do it. So you have to think about that in, in some ways.Speaker 2:
Right. So as a new member of the HLA board, what do you still want accomplish? You got some time ahead of you on the board a few years to go, what do you see HLA and how far going in the future and how what's your role in that gonna be?Speaker 3:
Um, I, um, I came up through the, uh, the behavioral health task force, which then turned into a practice group. So I think I bring kind of a unique perspective coming up through a growing area of the law. Something that wasn't quite established and really, since I've been involved in the HOA has just exploded in, you know, some of it is because of the ACA and things that provided funding where there wasn't funding before, but it's just really, so I think I bring open-mindedness to what could be a part of the HLA because I don't think anyone, maybe 10 years ago thought that we'd have a behavioral health practice group, which we do now. Um, so, um, and, and so, you know, just keeping an eye on new areas of the law, um, what young people in the, in the practice of law are interested in. Um, I, I think I'm a pretty approachable person. So hopefully when we get back to in person programming, you know, trying to really listen to what members want and talking with them about that. And then I'm an out lesbian and I bring kind of the diverse perspective to the board. And I hope that I'm able to, um, listen to the members who, you know, come at the, the HOA from a different perspective and bring that to the board as well.Speaker 2:
Those are all great things. I mean, I think of it's just on all of them, you're sort of on the frontier, which is great. I mean, I hope, well, I hope for some of them, it won't always be the frontier, but the, but it, it's interesting that you have that perspective and bring it about when the next frontier comes along. You'll have some insight on how to, how to proceed forward there, wherever that may be. Um, so really interesting. Well, um, you know, I, I tend to ask a couple of maybe more lighthearted questions here at the end. So let me ask you one, see how it goes. Do you have any walk in music? What is your music? You, you walk in, you know, this is what baseball players do when they're walking up to the plate and they're fixing their bet and their walk-in music. What's your big walk-in music when you're getting announced on the, on the stage? ISpeaker 3:
Sure. I think it's, um, this is an old time song. So, uh, for those of you young people, you may have to go look it up, but, um, for, I think I am woman by Helen ready song from is, is a really great song. And I think it kind of represents me,Speaker 2:
You'll laugh, but we used to sing that song at my camp, which was an all boys camp. They redid the words. Right. And, um, and it was like something about how we all roared, right. Or whatever the words are in that song. But it's a, it's a great song. That's one of the all time classics. So when they induct you into the health lawyer, rockstar hall of fame, which every AA board member will be probably, um, what is your plaque on the wall gonna say?Speaker 3:
I think it may say she did it her way.Speaker 2:
Yeah. And that's not a bad way to do it. I will tell you. Um, certainly, uh, I think we're all better off for the people that do it their way and particularly at age way. Um, well, that's really helpful to hear some of your thoughts. I think very inspiring for people, some sort of the, the track you've led and the places you've gone and been and what you're gonna do going forward, looking forward to seeing where really wanna thank you for being, uh, my guest this morning and for, uh, sharing so many interesting thoughts and ideas with us really appreciated Suzanne. Thank you.Speaker 3:
Thank you very much.Speaker 1:
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