Over the last few days I was at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY, which is only about 35 minutes from my house, at the HFMA Region 2 Fall Institute. It was actually a joint venture between three HFMA chapters in this state, the Northeastern NY Chapter, the Central New York Chapter (of which I'm a member) and the Northwestern NY Chapter.

The conference began with a reception Wednesday night in the Golfdome, which I didn't quite know existed. I knew it was there, but the last thing I remembered being held there was a championship boxing match many years ago, where Laila Ali actually had one of her last fights against Joe Frazier's daughter. I felt it was an important networking event for me to be at, and it turned into a load of fun, as I ran into people I hadn't seen in years, and met a couple of new people also. The facility was impressive; that is, if you like golf. But the people at Turning Stone never stopped building, as they've already added racquet ball courts to it, and are in the process of adding both indoor and outdoor tennis courts to it; just amazing.

Thursday was the official signing in day, where we picked up our free gift from the Northeastern Chapter, an over-the-shoulder briefcase, which was sponsored by the CPA firm Fust, Charles, Chambers LLP; nice touch. There was a continental breakfast in the Exhibit Hall, where I ate nothing because I don't eat at continental breakfast's, then it was time to go into the main meeting hall where things were ready to begin.

Our first presenter was Jim Sheehan, the NYS Medicaid Inspector General. He gave a pretty good presentation on the state of the Medicaid program and what his office is trying to do to eliminate fraud against Medicaid. Next up was a panel discussion of three health care industry heavyweights, led by Daniel Sisto, president of the Health Association of New York State, and one other guy who was also to be the next speaker, someone I've talked about here before, none other than my friend David Goldsmith. What I found interesting is that Mr. Sisto pretty much agreed with my take on the health care plans of each candidate, showing obvious disdain for John McCain's plan; who says I don't know what I'm talking about? After a short break, David did his thing, which included picking on me a little bit (I am NOT a groupie!), and the crowd was once again thoroughly impressed; this was the largest crowd I've ever seen him interact with in person. I mention lunch coming afterward only because, at my table, out of nine people there, seven agreed with "us" and two believed we had gotten the details of the McCain plan wrong; that's what America is all about.

Over the course of the next day and a half were educational sessions, three at a time so we all had something to choose from, and some of them were pretty good, though I'll admit that I begged out of the last one on Friday to come back home. The highlight of the event was supposed to be an appearance by Michelle Paterson, wife of the governor of New York, who has a health care background, and I was so keyed that I left home earlier than I probably needed to (getting very little sleep in the process) because I wanted to make sure I would get in early enough to not be hassled by the police protection I knew she would have. Alas, no buzz, and no Mrs. Paterson, which, unfortunately, left the early morning presentation a little bit flat, even though someone else stepped in at the last minute and gave a credible presentation on such short notice.

I'm not sure how successful networking was, but I did meet some new people, made some impressions on others, though most of those people were vendors, as myself, and got reacquainted with some old friends. I got a request for an article and a possible speaking engagement out of it, which is never a bad thing, and I even managed a little bit of poker. A quick side story is that I was sitting at one table when, suddenly sitting next to me, is my lawyer; will wonders never cease. And, had I sat at that table just 45 minutes longer, I'd have gotten to share more than $44,000; oh well,...

That's my update on this year's HFMA Regional Conference. I'm glad I went, and I'm looking forward to next year.