The Federal Food and Drug Administration and the Future of Food Safety

Law & Policy InsightsFood and Housing Insecurity MeasuresFood Safety and SecurityFood Security

June 1, 2021
by Mathew R. Swinburne

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Initiative released by the agency in June of 2020 serves as the blueprint for the FDA’s approach to food safety over the next decade. While it builds on the foundation created by the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act, the Initiative represents a new approach to food safety that will leverage technology and data to create a safer food system.

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New Report on Proposed Limits on Public Health Authority

Network NewsEmergency Legal Preparedness and ResponseLegislation and Legal Challenges

May 24, 2021

At least 15 state legislatures have passed or are considering measures to limit severely the legal authority of public health agencies to protect the public from serious illness, injury, and death. This new report released by the Network and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), provides an overview of public health authority and its important role in protecting the health of communities, as well as examples of specific laws that would limit public health authority.

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Rethinking and Reducing the Role of Law Enforcement in Suicide Prevention Efforts

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMental Health and Well-BeingRacism as a Public Health Crisis

May 18, 2021
by April Shaw

It’s essential to rethink suicide prevention that involves the use of police, and to forge a new path forward that does not result in additional trauma or even death of the very persons whose life—and quality of life—suicide prevention advocates are seeking to protect.

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The Affordable Care Act: Reflections on 10 Years

Law & Policy InsightsMedicaid

May 6, 2021
by Sarah Somers

Despite repeated attacks by opponents in the past 10 years, the ACA has not only survived – it has thrived. Because of the law, millions of people gained insurance coverage for the first time. Millions more have increased security when insured, benefitting from prohibitions on discrimination by insurers and protections for people with preexisting conditions. In this commentary, Sarah Somers, J.D., M.P.H., managing attorney at the Network’s Southeastern Region Office, reflects on a decade of significant events and greatest successes in the ACA’s history, and provides a preview of things to come.

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Social Determinants of Health Legislation: Opportunities for a New Future

Law & Policy Insights

May 5, 2021

Since as early as 2008, we have known the integral role the Social Determinants of Health (SDOHs) play in health outcomes. However, it was not until 2020 that Congress acknowledged public health’s important role in “working across sectors on social determinants of health” and funded an SDOH pilot program. Although the project is a step in the right direction, we must also support policies and legislation that directly addresses the SDOHs, including the Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021 recently reintroduced to the House of Representatives.

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Public Health Law News Roundup – May 2021

Law & Policy Insights

May 5, 2021

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s move to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars; President Biden’s plan to strengthen America's digital infrastructure; new federal guidelines to increase access to an important Opioid use disorder treatment; threats and harassment directed at public health officials due to COVID-19; the corrosive impact of racism on the health of Black Americans; how public health can be improved by addressing climate change; and Oregon’s newly passed legislation designed to help prevent youth suicide.

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As Children Transition to In-Person Learning, USDA Announces Important Measures to Ensure Food Security and Safety of Students

Law & Policy InsightsFood Safety and SecurityHealth in School

April 29, 2021
by Mathew R. Swinburne

During the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has skyrocketed. It is estimated that in 2021, 42 million Americans have lacked sufficient food to lead healthy lives. This parallel pandemic of hunger deeply affects America’s children with an estimated 12 million children experiencing food insecurity. Prior to the pandemic the free and reduced-price school meal programs were critical tools for addressing food insecurity, serving an estimated 22 million children. A recent study out of Tufts University found that school meals were the most nutritious source of food for most American school children, further emphasizing the critical nature of these programs. The need for these important programs has only grown with the challenges created by COVID-19.

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National Minority Health Month: Raising Awareness and Encouraging Action to Address Health Disparities

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 21, 2021
by April Shaw, Carrie McLachlan, Dawn Hunter and Mathew R. Swinburne

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.

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