Drug Paraphernalia Laws and Alternatives to Syringe Exchange

Legal Technical Assistance HighlightsSubstance Use Prevention and Harm ReductionOpioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention

February 13, 2018

A requester contacted the Network noting that it is a misdemeanor for pharmacists to sell drug paraphernalia in his state and that there were also no needle exchange sites in the state. Limited access to drug paraphernalia may increase the likelihood that intravenous drug users will share needles, increasing the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. The requester wanted to know if other states have similar laws and what strategies for harm reduction have been used in those states.

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People, Not Problems: Confronting the Health Justice Implications of Laws that Criminalize Homelessness

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable Housing

February 13, 2018
by James G. Hodge, Jr.

The creation and enforcement of municipal laws criminalizing homelessness are escalating in U.S. cities. Much like the criminalization of HIV, the criminalization of homelessness creates additional barriers to housing, health care, employment and other basic human needs, perpetuating the cycle of homelessness and corresponding health inequities.

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Integrating Trauma-Informed Practices Across State Government: The Wisconsin Way

Law & Policy InsightsMental Health and Well-Being

January 31, 2018
by Jill Krueger

A growing body of research establishes that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may negatively affect health and well-being throughout a person’s life span. The impact of ACEs, however, can be ameliorated by trauma-informed practices, such as through early childhood interventions that mitigate social and environmental risks for families and promote resilience. Wisconsin has been a leader in integrating trauma-informed policy across its state government.

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Bed Bugs – They’re Still Here

Law & Policy Insights

January 29, 2018
by Colleen Healy Boufides and Denise Chrysler

A recent $3.5-million jury verdict awarded to residents of a bed-bug infested apartment complex in Los Angeles illuminates issues raised by many bed bug cases, including whether the burden to eliminate bedbugs should be placed on landlords or tenants; whether current state laws and local ordinances are effective in addressing bed bug issues and affording relief to victims; and whether these laws encourage productive behavior by landlords and tenants.

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Medicaid and Work Requirements – Kentucky’s “Experiment”

Law & Policy InsightsMedicaid

January 17, 2018
by Sarah Somers

For the first time, the federal government has given a state permission to impose work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage. As troubling as these policy developments are, there is a more disturbing assumption underlying them. In its efforts to justify work requirements as a legitimate feature of a Medicaid program, the administration relies on a distorted concept of the social determinants of health.

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Public Health Emergency Declaration Falls Short of Expanding Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Rural Communities

Law & Policy InsightsPublic Health Emergency: Legal Preparedness & Response

January 8, 2018
by Corey Davis

The number of Americans affected by the opioid epidemic has reached staggering rates. In 2016, more Americans died from drug overdoses than died through the entirety of the Vietnam War. Fortunately, there is an effective, evidence-based way of treating opioid use disorder (OUD) – treatment with the medications methadone and buprenorphine, which is termed medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

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The Negative Impacts of Eliminating ACA Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Reform

December 15, 2017
by Corey Davis

Nearly 4.7 million Americans, including 1.3 million new enrollees, signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, and polling indicates the public has a favorable opinion of the law. Nevertheless, after failing in their full-scale attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration continue to put individual pieces of the legislation at risk of elimination.

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Tax Incentives as a Tool to Promote Public Health

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

December 14, 2017
by Mathew R. Swinburne

Tax incentives can be an effective legal intervention for advancing the public’s health. In this Q&A, Mathew Swinburne, Associate Director at the Network's Eastern Region Office, discusses ways in which tax deductions are being used to address a key barrier to improving the health status of ex-offenders: the inability to secure employment because of conviction status.

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New HIPAA Guidance Promotes Information-Sharing to Support Recovery from Opioid Addiction

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Information and Data SharingSubstance Use Prevention and Harm ReductionOpioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention

December 6, 2017

New guidelines released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in October clarify when and how healthcare providers can share a patient’s health information with family members, friends and legal representatives of those who are struggling with opioid addiction. The HIPAA Privacy Rule is often cited as a reason to refuse access to a patient’s health information, sometimes appropriately, but often not. Understanding when and how healthcare providers can share patient information with family members, friends, and legal representatives without violating the HIPAA Privacy Rule is therefore a critical component to addressing the opioid crisis and providing care to those affected.

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Pharmacist Prescribing Authority: A Method to Increase Access to Care

Law & Policy Insights

November 8, 2017

Limited numbers of providers, cost of care, limited time, and limited mobility all reduce a person’s ability to access basic care. One way states have begun to address this issue is through scope of practice adjustments for pharmacists, granting those pharmacists with proper training the ability to become a provider themselves and prescribe certain drugs to certain patients that may otherwise be unable to obtain care.

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When Kids’ Lunches Get Schooled: Scaling Back the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

Law & Policy InsightsHealth in SchoolNational School Lunch ProgramFood Safety and SecurityMaternal and Child Health

November 6, 2017

On May 1, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made an announcement difficult to stomach: certain school nutrition standards implemented under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 would be scaled back. As American kids consume as much as half their daily calories at school, reforming school-provided meals can meaningfully impact childhood obesity, which affects over 12.7 million kids and adolescents in the United States.

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