Brianne Schell, J.D., M.A., serves as a staff attorney with the Network’s Eastern Region Office. In her time with the Network, she has produced resources in a variety of subject areas including housing affordability, equity in recreational cannabis legalization, tobacco regulation, and more. Her work currently focuses on environmental health, cannabis policy, and safe driving policies. 

 

Brianne’s passion for public health and policy began with her undergraduate studies, earning her B.S. in Public Health with a specialization in sociology from the Ohio State University College of Public Health in 2018. She also earned her J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy and Management from the Ohio State University in 2021. During her time at Ohio State, Brianne conducted legal and policy research for the Ohio General Assembly and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Law Program, advocated for the legal rights of impoverished Ohioans, and contributed to academic legal works on tobacco regulation and criminal sexual harassment law.

Articles & Resources

Maryland’s Approach to Enhancing Access to Abortion: Expanding Scope of Practice

Law & Policy InsightsLegislation and Legal ChallengesMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthReproductive Health and Equity 

January 26, 2023
by Brianne Schell

Maryland’s Abortion Care Access Act is the first of its kind in the U.S. The new law expands the scope of practice for certain health care providers to allow them to provide abortion care, aims to increase provider diversity through training programs, and improves affordability and equity by requiring insurance coverage for abortion care. Experience and evaluation will help determine whether it is effective at improving safe, convenient, and equitable access to abortion care in Maryland. If so, it could serve as a model for other states looking to increase access, improve patient outcomes, and reduce health inequities.

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Let’s Talk Money: Barriers and Benefits of Investment in Public Health

Law & Policy InsightsPublic Health Funding and InfrastructureMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

November 1, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Public health interventions are chronically underfunded, in significant part because policymakers are often reluctant to adopt policies necessary to fund them. Much of this reluctance can be attributed to the fact that returns on investment (ROIs) for public health interventions, while substantial, are difficult to accurately predict and are often realized many years down the line. Decision-makers and funders at all levels of government, and the public, need a mindset shift toward recognizing the long-term value of public health investments, and public health professionals can use advocacy to help them do so.

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Exemptions to School Entry Vaccines and Corresponding Vaccine Coverage

Fact SheetLegislation and Legal ChallengesMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

August 29, 2022
by Brianne Schell and Leila Barraza

The first state law requiring vaccines for children entering school was passed in 1855 in Massachusetts as a response to a deadly outbreak of smallpox. By 1963, twenty states had joined Massachusetts in requiring vaccines for school entry. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia require vaccines for school entry, including those for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), polio, and varicella (chickenpox). For a single birth-year cohort (2009) of children, school entry vaccines were estimated to prevent 20 million cases of disease and 42,000 deaths.

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Federal Court Upholds County’s Ban on Flavored Tobacco

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

May 18, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Preserving the ability of states and local governments to regulate the sale of tobacco, especially flavored tobacco which is popular with youth, is crucial for protecting public health. In September 2019, Los Angeles County adopted an ordinance banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products, which was subsequently challenged in court by R.J. Reynolds which claimed the ordinance was preempted by the Tobacco Control Act (TCA). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently upheld the ordinance, concluding that the TCA does not preempt state and local governments from banning the sale of flavored tobacco.

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Understanding the Intersection Between Climate Change, Housing, and Public Health

Webinars

May 3, 2022
by Betsy Lawton and Brianne Schell

Climate change is a public health threat that has already begun to erode the availability of safe and accessible housing, a critical social determinant of health. Climate-caused extreme weather events, like increased flooding are not experienced equally across all populations; rather, the primary harms are being disproportionately experienced by frontline communities of color and those living in low-income neighborhoods. Health equity requires identifying law and policy solutions that prioritize the needs of communities most vulnerable to climate harms and understanding the role that climate change plays in undermining housing security. Attend this webinar to learn about these topics, which will include a climate-focused lens as well as identifying law and policy approaches to housing affordability and availability. 

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Law and Policy Pathways to Increase Affordable Housing

PathwaysHealthy and Affordable Housing

April 20, 2022
by Brianne Schell

About 36 percent of households in the U.S. rent their homes and nearly half spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. This cost burden means many renters are unable to allocate resources for other important needs such as healthcare, education, and healthy food. Studies have shown that when families gain access to affordable housing, whether rented or owned, their health and quality of life improves. This resource outlines laws and policies, including investing in public housing, mortgage and homeownership assistance, and zoning law reforms that have shown a proven track record of success

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Policy Approaches for Improving Housing Affordability and Availability

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable HousingMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 10, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Financial disparities exist in a multitude of areas including home ownership, credit scores, and access to banking services; and are linked to health disparities in maternal and child health, mental health, and substance use disorders. Community organizations can play a role in reducing these disparities by providing financial education and planning, increasing access to banking services, and providing help for those who find themselves in the grip of predatory lenders and payday loans.

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Zoning Reform

Fact SheetHealthy and Affordable Housing

March 10, 2022
by Brianne Schell

The U.S. severely lacks affordable housing. Countless government and non-profit sponsored programs aiming to increase the supply of affordable housing have been established around the country (mortgage assistance programs, community land trusts, etc.), but for them to operate effectively, zoning laws must first allow the development of affordable housing units. This fact sheet examines various zoning reforms that might be used to achieve health equity through housing.

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Mortgage and Homeownership Assistance

Fact SheetHealthy and Affordable Housing

January 11, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Research indicates that policies designed to facilitate home ownership may do more to improve health and wellbeing, as well as economic stability, than renter protections. Home ownership rates in the U.S. remain low, especially among Black and Hispanic residents. One of the significant barriers is the need for most first-time homebuyers to obtain mortgages, which require that they have decent credit scores, steady incomes, and cash reserves to qualify. Federal and state mortgage lenders and/or assistance programs can remove some of these barriers to homeownership.

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