Efforts at Some Universities to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations Face State Legislative and Executive Challenges

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19EducationHealth in School

April 21, 2021
by Leila Barraza

Several universities across the U.S. have announced plans to require students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before heading back to campus for the fall semester. Brown, Cornell, Duke, Northeastern, and Rutgers are among them. Some institutions of higher learning, like Virginia Tech, have determined that they cannot require vaccinations because of the vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status, but this stance rests on shaky legal grounds.

Read more

Federal Investment Shows Promise in Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthRural HealthTelehealth

April 21, 2021
by Betsy Lawton

The digital divide continues to prevent many households and students from accessing online services that can support healthy outcomes. However, federal lawmakers and agencies have recently taken short-term steps to address the largest source of the digital divide—affordability—and some longer-term federal fixes to the digital divide are on the horizon. Permanent federal, state, and local policies and programs must prioritize affordable broadband service for all households and provide regulatory oversight to ensure the digital divide does not exacerbate health inequities now, and in the future.

Read more

Public Health Law News Roundup – April 2021

Law & Policy Insights

April 6, 2021

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include the Biden administration’s efforts to implement a national COVID-19 testing strategy; the city of Sante Fe’s innovative approach to addressing homelessness; a House bill that would significantly expand voting rights; a Colorado bill providing added protections for public health workers; vaccine mandates for health care workers; a new law in California that expands access to mental health and addiction treatments; and COVID-19 vaccination registration and information websites that violate disability laws.

Read more

American Rescue Plan Act Provides Opportunity for Syringe Access

Law & Policy InsightsHarm Reduction Legal ProjectSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

March 30, 2021
by Corey Davis

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) into law on March 11, 2021. While most media attention focused on its headline provisions, including $1,400 stimulus checks for many individuals, $350 billion in aid to state, local, and tribal governments, and expansions in the Earned Income Tax Credit and child tax credit, the Act also contains historic assistance for harm reduction programs.

Read more

Power Sharing, Capacity Building, and Community Leadership: Common Elements of Public Health Practice and Community Lawyering

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 29, 2021

Community lawyering, also called movement lawyering, is an approach to social justice which de-centers lawyers as the linchpins of change and instead focuses on empowering communities and movements. The updated 2020 10 Essential Public Health Services include core values and activities that are also reflected in community lawyering. Among these priorities are communicating to inform and educate, mobilizing communities and partnerships, supporting laws to advance health equity, and ensuring equitable access to services needed for health.

Read more

Women’s History Month: Network Attorneys Discuss Law and Policy Solutions to Promote Women’s Health & Wellbeing

Law & Policy InsightsMaternal and Child HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMedicaidMental Health and Well-Being

March 24, 2021
by April Shaw, Carrie Waggoner, Colleen Healy Boufides, Dawn Hunter, Jill Krueger and Leila Barraza

In honor of Women's History Month, women in the Network’s Health Equity Working Group have highlighted legal or policy issues affecting women’s health that they see as critically important. The topics addressed cover: economic stability and well-being, pregnancy discrimination, period poverty, and maternal depression. The law and policy solutions discussed here have the potential to improve life for women and girls for generations to come.

Read more

Moving Past Disbelief in Systemic Racism to Understand What it Means For Health Equity

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 23, 2021
by Dawn Hunter

Since the Biden Administration released its plan to advance racial equity in the United States, there has been significant pushback against the idea that systemic racism even exists. This questioning is not new, but it has taken on a renewed fervor as state and local governments, professional associations, hospitals and health systems, and corporations have made public commitments to addressing systemic racism and treating racism as a public health crisis.

Read more

Our Statement on Violence Against Asian Communities and Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Network NewsCOVID-19 and Health Equity

March 22, 2021

The rise in anti-Asian sentiment is closely intertwined with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the xenophobic language used by some government leaders has further fueled discrimination and hate crimes against Asian communities in America. The violent, physical attacks on people of Asian descent around the country, and the horrific shootings in Atlanta — which the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and many other communities believe was racially motivated — are glaring examples of why racism is a public health crisis.

Read more

One Month of Executive Orders for the Biden Administration: Public Health Impact

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19

March 19, 2021

As of February 20, 2021, President Biden had issued 34 Executive Orders (EOs), several of which are intended to protect the public’s health. While the majority of the EOs use the power of the federal government to protect Americans from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are also measures designed to strengthen our public health infrastructure more broadly, and specifically relate to the impact of climate change.

Read more

COVID-19’s Impact on State Public Health Laws Requires Careful Deliberation, Not a Rush to Legislate

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19

March 11, 2021
by Jill Krueger

As efforts are made to examine and evaluate the response to COVID-19 both generally and within public health specifically, states are taking a variety of approaches. Legislators in some states are seeking to clarify and bolster emergency powers and public health authority, while legislators in other states are seeking to curtail them sharply. The process unfolding in state legislatures has the potential to affect substantive developments in emergency powers and public health authority for years to come and should therefore be done only after careful consideration and discussion.

Read more