The popular social justice movement Health at Every Size focuses on health improvement as the goal, irrespective to weight loss, and advocates for social acceptance of all body sizes, including morbid obesity. With obesity prevalence at an all-time high in the U.S., some public health officials are concerned that persons who view obesity as healthy are less likely to lose weight, increasing their risks for many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
The Journal of Law Medicine and Ethics recently published a special supplement with articles exploring critical topics discussed at the 2018 National Public Health Law Conference. In this Q&A, the co-authors of the article, “Equity in Action: Operationalizing Processes in State Governance” discuss their article, which examines efforts to embed an equity lens in legislated and non-legislated policies and practices in three states and describes progress and lessons learned and offers guidance to others.
Excessive alcohol use is responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths every year, among many other health risks, and research shows that the more readily available alcohol is in a community, the greater the negative impacts. The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned a Tennessee law regulating the distribution of alcohol, a move that many public health advocates fear is likely to be a harbinger of more restrictions on state and local government ability to regulate alcohol for health or safety purposes.
Since 1988 there have been 4,500 documented cases of children endangered because a parent or guardian left them unattended in a parked car. More than 36 children die annually across America each year from vehicular heatstroke. Federal law has been introduced to prevent these tragic deaths, but stronger state laws can also help protect children.
Forty-six percent of Medicaid spending goes to Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), which receive capitated payments—meaning they get a set dollar amount regardless of how much they spend on providing services. Recent reports suggest that MCOs in numerous states are providing below average or poor preventive care, possibly to millions of Medicaid recipients.
The use of exclusionary discipline practices (which remove students from the learning environment) has been shown to cause a variety of negative outcomes for students, particularly for minority and marginalized students. Despite advances in school disciplinary reform, efforts to reinstate this practice persist. In this Q&A, the co-authors of the article, “Health Equity, School Discipline Reform and Restorative Justice” discuss their article, which offers an analytical framework for understanding school discipline as a public health issue.
In an effort to combat opioid overdose, the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old, states have attempted to make the overdose-reversing drug naloxone more available through the use of “standing orders” which permit naloxone to be dispensed to an individual with whom the prescriber (e.g. doctor, nurse practitioner) does not have a prescriber-patient relationship, a practice which is otherwise generally prohibited.
Although the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act directed the FDA to propose graphic warnings to be required on cigarette packages and advertising by June 2011, cigarette packages and ads in the US still do not contain graphic warnings. In August 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with other public health organizations, filed suit against the FDA seeking to force the Agency to propose graphic warnings as mandated by Congress.
Medical-legal partnership (MLP) attorneys are ideally situated to identify and define the contours of specific legal issues affecting a community’s health. MLPs can also play an important role in informing, guiding, and effectuating strategic legal changes to improve health at the population level. In addition to working with MLPs on public health law and policy initiatives, there are many additional opportunities for public health departments and MLPs to collaborate on a day-to-day basis.
Tribes across the country are restoring ancient traditions to improve overall wellness of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The recent National Tribal Public Health Summit highlighted these stories and identified the need for law and policy solutions to address a number of critical issues including opioid harm prevention and treatment, access to oral health care, and climate change.