A federal district court judge in Texas recently struck down the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as unconstitutional and found that the rest of the Act was not severable and struck it down, too. Here’s our overview of the decision and what’s to come.
In recent years, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the Medicaid program, has encouraged states to use Medicaid-managed care for coverage of non-health services that can impact the social determinants of health. Some states, like North Carolina, have used special waivers available under the program to pilot innovative new programs.
Some of the public health law and policy stories that made headlines recently include statewide initiatives to combat premature births; the midterm election results and Medicaid expansion; childhood trauma as a public health crisis; FDA crackdown on menthol in tobacco; changes to the SNAP program that may worsen food insecurity; concern over a major chickenpox outbreak in North Carolina; and one city’s success in lowering their overdose rate by 50%.
Recently, a federal district court in Connecticut diverged from precedent to rule for an employee whose medical cannabis use resulted in a blatant rescission of a prospective job offer. According to the court in Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehab. Ctr. (Bride Brook), Connecticut’s legal protections from discrimination for employees lawfully using medical cannabis are not barred by contrary federal legal provisions. The holding differs from prior state court decisions finding that employers generally have no duty to accommodate medical cannabis patients.
Many states allow for license suspension as a punishment for non-payment of fees and fines related to traffic offenses. These suspensions often have significant public health impacts, some of which seem obvious—people need transportation to access medical care and medicines, which of course, has an effect on public health. But a closer look reveals a plethora of other negative consequences that impact public health.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is highly regarded as the first piece of federal legislation to recognize the criminal nature of domestic violence and sexual assault. The law was set to expire on September 30, 2018 and rather than fully re-authorizing it, Congress only extended the VAWA until December 7, 2018. The future of the legislation is uncertain, even as crime statistics and public health impacts illustrate continued need of its protections.
Medical-legal Partnerships (MLPs) integrate lawyers into health care settings to assist with patient care by addressing structural problems that impact health. As a result, MLPs help identify ways in which laws harm population health and perpetuate health disparities. But that is only the beginning: MLP practitioners are also key partners in changing harmful laws and practices.
Recently passed resolutions in the House and Senate recognize the importance, effectiveness and need for trauma-informed care in the existing programs of federal agencies, and encourages federal agencies to adopt a trauma informed approach to their work. The resolutions cite examples of trauma informed practices, programs and policies implemented at the state, tribal and local levels. Many of the examples are from local communities and some involve a legal component.
Good nutrition remains a challenge for most Americans, with less than one in ten consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily. Furthermore, significant disparities exist across race, ethnicity, economic status, and geography. The Healthy People 2020 Law and Health Policy project released the first of a series of reports and products this month, highlighting ways law and policy can support healthy eating across the lifespan, and focusing on three areas crucial to health equity: access, affordability, and demand for healthy foods.
Over the past several months, in the lead-up to our 2018 Public Health Law Conference, we asked Network members and friends what health justice means to you. Your insights, along with a survey of the legal and policy issues impacting health equity, informed the strong and diverse programming for the more than 40 sessions organized for the conference.