Lawmakers to Decide whether Washington State Continues its Health-Centered Approach in Emphasizing Treatment over Punishment for Drug Possession

Law & Policy InsightsLegislation and Legal ChallengesSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

April 19, 2023
by Corey Davis

In May 2021, Washington state passed a law that, among other changes, re-classified drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor and required law enforcement officers to refer individuals to treatment at least twice before making an arrest. The law, which expires on July 1, 2023, also created the Substance Use Recovery Services Advisory Committee (SURSAC) to research best practices, create a statewide plan, and advise state lawmakers. Lawmakers are now considering whether to implement SURSAC’s 17 recommendations.

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State Laws Banning Transgender Students’ Participation in Sports Harm Health and Wellbeing

Law & Policy InsightsMaternal and Child HealthEducationHealth in SchoolMental Health and Well-Being

April 19, 2023
by Colleen Healy Boufides

Laws banning or heavily restricting students who are transgender from playing on athletic teams with students of the same gender are increasing, as are challenges to such laws. Human rights advocates are closely watching as one case, B.P.J. v. West Virginia, proceeds through the courts. The case’s outcome may influence the course of similar legal challenges across the country.

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Key Health Policy Changes Promoting Reproductive Justice

Law & Policy InsightsReproductive Health and Equity Mechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 22, 2023
by Jennifer Piatt

Compared to White women, women of color in the U.S. are more likely to be uninsured, live in areas without easy access to contraception, and lack resources necessary to cover health care costs. Consequently, the legal impacts of the overturning of Roe vs Wade have predominantly fallen on pregnancy-capable individuals of color. Despite current serious limitations on access, several states have recently taken important steps toward reproductive justice through the adoption of key health policies.

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Network for Public Health Law Announces New Leadership at its Mid-States Region Office

Network News

March 9, 2023
by Carrie Waggoner and Colleen Healy Boufides

The Network is pleased to announce the appointments of Carrie Waggoner, J.D. and Colleen Healy Boufides, J.D. as the new Director and Co-Director of our Mid-States Region Office. They will jointly will lead the Mid-States team of law and policy experts in their ongoing work to support capacity building to public health departments and other entities to advance laws and policies that center equity, particularly in public health data sharing. Read the full announcement. 

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Improving Health Equity Requires Addressing Multiple Race and Ethnicity Data Collection Barriers

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Information and Data Sharing

March 8, 2023
by Carrie Waggoner

With accurate and complete public health data, policymakers can be better equipped to interpret and use data to dismantle the legal, social, political, and economic systems that create inequities. However, state collection of non-white racial and ethnic group data has long been incomplete and unreliable due to several barriers. Overcoming these barriers requires legal and policy solutions at multiple levels.

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Removal of “X-Waiver” Promises Increased and More Equitable Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Law & Policy InsightsHarm Reduction Legal ProjectMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityOpioid Misuse and Overdose PreventionHarm Reduction Legal Project Resources

March 2, 2023
by Corey Davis

Although it’s been shown to reduce many of the harms associated with opioid use disorder, including overdose deaths, access to the medication buprenorphine has been hampered by several legal restrictions.  The recently passed 2023 Consolidation Appropriations Act includes a provision that removes a key barrier: the X-waiver requirement, which will increase access to buprenorphine, as well as improve provider knowledge of evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, and address disparities in access to care.

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Science Denial and Public Health Law

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthPublic Health Advocacy and Decision-Making

February 22, 2023
by Erica White

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, “science denialism” — including misinformation and disinformation — was rampant, engendering opposition to vaccines and other disease mitigation measures, as well as a backlash against public health officials. Combating the spread of misinformation and disinformation requires working with trusted community members and increased government efforts to disseminate clear public health information.

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Renters Bill of Rights – Access to Safe, Quality, Accessible, and Affordable Housing and the Right to Organize

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable HousingFood and Housing Insecurity Measures

February 21, 2023
by Kathleen Hoke

Maryland’s Abortion Care Access Act is the first of its kind in the U.S. The new law expands the scope of practice for certain health care providers to allow them to provide abortion care, aims to increase provider diversity through training programs, and improves affordability and equity by requiring insurance coverage for abortion care. Experience and evaluation will help determine whether it is effective at improving safe, convenient, and equitable access to abortion care in Maryland. If so, it could serve as a model for other states looking to increase access, improve patient outcomes, and reduce health inequities.

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Maryland’s Approach to Enhancing Access to Abortion: Expanding Scope of Practice

Law & Policy InsightsLegislation and Legal ChallengesMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthReproductive Health and Equity 

January 26, 2023
by Brianne Schell

Maryland’s Abortion Care Access Act is the first of its kind in the U.S. The new law expands the scope of practice for certain health care providers to allow them to provide abortion care, aims to increase provider diversity through training programs, and improves affordability and equity by requiring insurance coverage for abortion care. Experience and evaluation will help determine whether it is effective at improving safe, convenient, and equitable access to abortion care in Maryland. If so, it could serve as a model for other states looking to increase access, improve patient outcomes, and reduce health inequities.

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Job Opportunity: Senior Program Coordinator

Network News

January 20, 2023

The Network is seeking a Senior Program Coordinator to support our National Director in key initiatives and administrative activities. This role requires excellent planning, problem-solving aptitude, time management, nuanced relationship navigation, attention to detail, and the ability to meet deadlines while juggling multiple requests. A high level of integrity and discretion in handling information and professionalism in dealing with leaders inside and outside the Network is crucial.

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Managing Privacy Risks to Advance Health Equity through Dissemination of Disaggregated Data

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Data Sharing and PrivacyDe-identification of DataHealth Information and Data Sharing

January 10, 2023
by Stephen Murphy

Dissemination of data disaggregated by race and ethnicity is an important step in advancing health equity. However, the public dissemination of datasets that include race and ethnicity raises important legal considerations around privacy, primarily around re-identification. Re-identification refers to the ability to use data from a de-identified dataset to identify individuals. Modifications to the released data can reduce re-identification risks while maximizing the data’s utility.

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