Taking Action to Address the Human Health Impacts of Climate Change

Law & Policy InsightsEnvironment, Climate and HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

November 30, 2022
by Betsy Lawton and Jill Krueger

The Lancet Countdown’s annual report, “Tracking Progress On Health and Climate Change,” highlights the immediate need for a health-centered response to climate change. Recognizing the need to build a shared understanding of how public health law can and should help mitigate climate change, presenters and attendees at the Network’s first-ever Climate and Health Equity Summit, held in Minneapolis in October, highlighted numerous legal and policy strategies to mitigate climate change and lessen its impacts on human health.

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Public Health Has a Critical Role in the Development of Data Privacy Legislation

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Data Sharing and PrivacyMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

November 30, 2022
by Carrie Waggoner

As public health is increasingly moving toward cross-sector data sharing to better tailor public health interventions and address health inequities, comprehensive privacy laws are receiving more legislative attention. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), introduced in June 2022 and amended in July, is an example of a pending federal bill that may have implications for public health data collection and sharing.

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Job Opportunity: Staff Attorneys, Mid-States Region Office

Network News

November 28, 2022

The Network is seeking a Public Health Staff Attorney to work with its Mid-States Region. This is a remote position. This position will assist the Network’s Mid-States Region to provide legal technical assistance, conduct training, develop tools and educational materials, and facilitate opportunities for networking and peer assistance on a wide variety of public health law topics. The position will focus on two key areas: 1) legal issues regarding collecting, sharing, and protecting data for public health purposes, including addressing determinants of health and promoting racial and health equity, and 2) legal issues regarding public health authority.

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Q&A: Strengthening Public Health Advocacy

Law & Policy InsightsPublic Health Advocacy and Decision-MakingMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthPublic Health Authority

November 17, 2022

In light of the current climate of eroding trust and falling investments in public health, a critical question has emerged: How do we strengthen public health advocacy at local, state, and national levels? In this Q&A, the authors of the study, Fighting for Public Health: Findings, Opportunities, and Next Steps from a Feasibility Study to Strengthen Public Health Advocacy discuss the myriad tensions surfaced by public health leaders interviewed for the study, and opportunities for a way forward.

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Job Opportunity: Legal Fellow, Harm Reduction Legal Project

Network News

November 16, 2022

The Network is seeking a Public Health Senior Attorney to help advance its health and racial equity work. While the position will work on a wide variety of public health law topics, it will primarily focus on addressing health and racial equity through law and policy. Projects may include research and analysis of racism and other forms of structural discrimination in law and policy, as well as strategies, frameworks, and tools that can be used or implemented by partners engaged in health and racial equity work. This position is expected to be fully remote.

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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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Job Opportunity: Senior Attorney, Health and Racial Equity Focus

Network News

November 1, 2022

The Network is seeking a Public Health Senior Attorney to help advance its health and racial equity work. While the position will work on a wide variety of public health law topics, it will primarily focus on addressing health and racial equity through law and policy. Projects may include research and analysis of racism and other forms of structural discrimination in law and policy, as well as strategies, frameworks, and tools that can be used or implemented by partners engaged in health and racial equity work. This position is expected to be fully remote.

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Laws that Criminalize Paraphernalia Increase Drug-Related Harm and Should Be Repealed

Law & Policy InsightsHarm Reduction Legal ProjectLegislation and Legal Challenges

October 26, 2022
by Corey Davis

Paraphernalia laws make it illegal to have, sell, or give away nearly any object used in conjunction with illegal drugs. Every state except Alaska penalizes the possession or distribution of syringes, pipes, and other objects people use to get certain drugs into their bodies. This leads to people sharing and re-using syringes, which can spread bloodborne disease like HIV and hepatitis and cause endocarditis and other deadly infections.

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Breast Cancer Screening, Research, and Treatment are Essential—So is Prevention

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

October 19, 2022
by Betsy Lawton

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to remind people of the prevalence of breast cancer, which will impact one in eight U.S. women—a growing number of which are women of color and women under 50 years of age. These realties call for policies that prevent exposure to chemicals linked to increased risk, while simultaneously continuing to support low-cost and convenient early detection methods and life-saving treatment that can address the current racial disparities in relative survival rates and identify breast cancer at earlier, more treatable stages. 

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What You May Not Know About HIPAA’s Right of Access

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Data Sharing and Privacy

October 18, 2022
by Stephen Murphy

Many state and local public health departments are covered entities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and must provide individuals with access to their protected health information. However, covered entities that are unfamiliar with a key provision of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, and its implications for the use of written authorizations to release protected health information to a third party, may be in jeopardy of violating the right of access.

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Legal and Ethical Implications of Increased Rates of Sterilizations Post-Dobbs

Law & Policy InsightsReproductive Health and Equity Maternal and Child HealthMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

October 18, 2022

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion, women and men in the U.S. are increasingly exploring sterilization options including tubal ligation/removal, vasectomy, ovaries removal, and other procedures. With other, non-permanent and effective birth control options available, increases in sterilization procedures and consultations following the Dobbs decision beg the question: why are those living in the U.S. increasingly choosing such drastic interventions? Among the many reasons are the emerging legal threats to accessing reproductive services in many states coupled with inferences that the Supreme Court may be willing to re-evaluate constitutional rights to contraception post-Dobbs.

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When Is “Good Enough” Not Good Enough? Making Public Health Policy in Politically Contentious Times

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

October 5, 2022
by Kerri McGowan Lowrey

As lawyers who care about public health, we hope for sound public health law and policy that is based on robust epidemiological evidence. But often the reality is a patchwork of provisions based on compromise, or no law at all. Compromise in public health lawmaking is often inevitable and even desirable in a democratic society. But is it ethically problematic to support a policy that the public believes is in place because it is protective when the evidence doesn’t support that conclusion? As public health lawyers, should we be satisfied that at least something is being done or remain firm in our support that only proven or effective policies should be passed?

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