Law & Policy Insights

Supporting Mental Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Mental Health and Well-Being

March 26, 2020
by Jill Krueger

The COVID-19 outbreak occurring in the United States and in many other countries has profound implications for mental health. Just as public health is leading the way to protect physical health in the context of COVID-19, public health can take steps to promote mental health and community resilience. While public health has emergency isolation, quarantine, and social distancing powers, taking small steps where consistent with good public health practice can support mental well-being.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Prompts Federal Agencies to Reduce Restrictions on Medications for Opioid Use Disorder

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Substance Use Prevention and Harm ReductionHarm Reduction Legal ProjectTelehealth

March 21, 2020
by Corey Davis

The medications methadone and buprenorphine are extremely effective in reducing the harms associated with opioid use disorder. In light of the ongoing public health emergency associated with COVID-19 the federal government has recently taken a number of steps to increase access to these lifesaving medications.

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Combatting COVID-19 through Law and Policy: Social Distancing Only Works if People Can Stay at Home

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Healthy and Affordable HousingSocial Distancing MeasuresSocial and Community Context

March 18, 2020
by Kerri McGowan Lowrey

Workers who are sick and one paycheck away from not being able to pay rent are more likely to go to work, potentially exposing others in their workplace and on public transportation to COVID-19. In response, just in the past week, several jurisdictions have taken innovative steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by instituting policies designed to ensure that people can stay in their homes.

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The Indian Health Care Improvement Act: Another Potential Casualty of Efforts to Repeal the ACA

Law & Policy InsightsTribal HealthMedicaid

March 12, 2020
by Sarah Somers

A lawsuit arguing for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is making its way to the Supreme Court. One of the lesser-known provisions of the ACA enacted the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) which provides key health care provisions intended to benefit Native populations. The loss of the IHCIA would significantly set back efforts to address health disparities.

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Social Media Isolation Conundrum: Seeking Public Health Law Solutions

Law & Policy InsightsMental Health and Well-Being

March 12, 2020

Emerging medical research suggests an array of harms from dysfunctional use of social media, including social isolation and loneliness. Rapid advancement of information technology and the near-ubiquitous use of social media have led to calls for public health research to better assess benefits and harms. As we learn more, what role might public health policy play in mediating the harmful effects of social media use?

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COVID-19: Snapshot of Law and Policy in the News

Law & Policy InsightsEmergency Legal Preparedness and ResponseCOVID-19

March 11, 2020

Public health law and policy stories that made headlines recently include expanding Medicaid access post-postpartum to improve maternal mortality rates; how changes in naloxone access laws could save thousands of lives; Juul’s suspension of flavored e-cigarette product sales amid growing scrutiny of its advertising practices; how proposed food-stamp cutbacks could worsen obesity and food insecurity in the U.S.; and a landmark ruling on supervised injection sites.

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Eviction Expungement: A Civil Legal Tool to Improve Housing Stability and Health

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable Housing

February 27, 2020

Eviction can trap families and individuals in cycles of poverty by limiting their housing options and pushing them into substandard housing or homelessness, leading to a multitude of poor physical and mental health outcomes. Eviction also disproportionally impacts people of color and poor people. Laws providing for the expungement of eviction records may help to mitigate the harmful consequences of eviction and improve access to housing.

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Food Allergies: A Call for Greater Precaution in the Food Service Industry

Law & Policy InsightsInjury Prevention and SafetyFood Safety and Security

February 12, 2020

As food allergies become more prevalent, there is increased risk of harm from serious and life-threatening reactions. However, this risk is frequently overlooked or disregarded by the food service industry. While federal law requires the packaged food industry to label any major allergens in their products, there is no mandate that restaurants do so. In response, several states have enacted legislation requiring food-service establishments to take additional food allergen precautions.

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Marijuana Delivery: California’s Looming Legal Battle

Law & Policy InsightsMarijuana Legalization

February 12, 2020
by Mathew R. Swinburne

As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana use, they are being confronted with a broad spectrum of policy issues. One of the emerging issues is whether to allow the legal cannabis industry to deliver marijuana directly to customers. Advocates see it as an issue of access, especially for medical marijuana patients. Opponents argue that delivery will make it easier for kids to get marijuana and that the delivery vehicles will be targeted by criminals.

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As Temperatures Rise, Equitable Tree Cover can Help Mitigate the Health Risks from Urban Heat Islands and Address Health Inequities within Communities

Law & Policy InsightsEnvironment, Climate and Health

January 30, 2020
by Betsy Lawton

Trees are beautiful, but are they also a cure for climate change related health hazards? We know that trees beautify urban spaces, increase property values, reduce stress, improve mental health, and benefit communities by reducing crime rates and increasing social cohesion. But tree cover can also provide significant cooling benefits to offset dangerous temperatures during extreme heat events, which are on the rise in urban areas as a result of climate change.

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