Barriers to a Diverse and Robust Public Health Law Workforce

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

February 24, 2022
by Emely Sanchez

A competent and diverse public health law workforce is essential to accomplishing health equity goals. Yet the public health law field—like the public health field generally—has struggled to create and maintain a robust and racially diverse workforce. Several barriers to entering the field, such as financial impediments, historic and persistent racial disparities that create a lack of mentorship for young attorneys of color, and a dearth of full-time, accessible job opportunities, may hint at possible approaches to expanding and strengthening the public health law workforce for the future.

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COVID-19 Equity Task Forces as An Opportunity to Advance Health Equity

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health Equity

February 23, 2022
by Betsy Lawton and Dawn Hunter

Early on in the pandemic, as the inequitable COVID-19 health outcomes experienced by Black, Hispanic, Latino and Latina, and Indigenous communities were becoming more pronounced, many state and local governments created task forces to address the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on communities of color and other marginalized populations. The Network analyzed the composition and role of these task forces, the legal mechanisms establishing them, common categories of task force recommendations and top policy recommendations, and opportunities for task forces to translate recommendations into actions that advance health equity.

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The Network for Public Health Law’s Harm Reduction Legal Project Receives Renewed Funding from Arnold Ventures

Network NewsHarm Reduction Legal ProjectHarm Reduction Legal Project ResourcesSubstance Use Prevention and Harm ReductionOpioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention

February 16, 2022
by Amy Lieberman and Corey Davis

Arnold Ventures has renewed funding support for the Network for Public Health Law’s Harm Reduction Legal Project, which works to address the legal and policy barriers that impede the establishment and expansion of evidence-based harm reduction measures such as naloxone distribution, syringe access programs, and access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment.

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The Pandemic’s Silver Linings: Moving Toward a More Inclusive New Normal for People with Disabilities

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Mechanisms for Advancing Public Health

February 10, 2022
by Morgan Jones-Axtell

Isolation measures taken in response to the pandemic necessitated a transition to virtual platforms for work, learning, and social activities for most Americans. While for some this transition created challenges like Zoom fatigue and less social time, for those unable to attend in-person gatherings due to disability or distance, these virtual platforms meant more opportunities for socializing and participation. The result has been a number of law and policy changes that have enhanced accessibility and equity for all people residing in the United States.

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Addressing the Inequitable Distribution of the Life-Saving Overdose Drug Naloxone: Could Vending Machines be an Answer?

Law & Policy InsightsHarm Reduction Legal ProjectOpioid Misuse and Overdose PreventionSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

February 9, 2022
by Amy Lieberman

Despite state efforts, disparities in access to the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone are widespread.  People of color and those experiencing homelessness face numerous barriers to obtaining naloxone, which is especially concerning given that from 2018 to 2019, overdose deaths for non-Hispanic Black individuals increased 40 percent, while deaths remained stable among individuals of other races and ethnicities. One innovative way to improve access is through the use of naloxone vending machines, an approach currently in use in a number of prisons and jails. 

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A Growing Body of Evidence can Help Make the Case for Public Health Laws to Mitigate the Impacts of COVID-19

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Mechanisms for Advancing Public Health

January 27, 2022
by Jill Krueger

It’s a cornerstone of public health law that public health laws should be grounded in evidence and expertise. That principle has not always been honored during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though additional research is needed, there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that public health interventions backed by law are associated with improved health outcomes.

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Student Loan Debt is Creating a Physical and Mental Health Crisis for Millions of Americans

Law & Policy InsightsEducationMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMental Health and Well-Being

January 26, 2022
by Erica White

Nearly 43 million Americans owe a combined $1.57 trillion in federal student loan debt, with Black borrowers holding 186 percent more debt per capita than White borrowers. Poor health outcomes, including high blood pressure and high rates of anxiety and depression, are associated with accumulating student loan debt. In response to the economic burdens of the pandemic, the Biden administration has paused student loan payment requirements several times, yet failure to address the debilitating effects of student loan debt has many calling on lawmakers to undertake education reform, including “forgiving” student loan debt.

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Public Health Law News Roundup – January 2022

Law & Policy Insights

January 12, 2022
by Mosalewa Ani

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include California’s new law requiring mental health courses be taught in schools, the challenges schools face in remaining open during the omicron surge, the addition of a common chemical to the FDAs list of hazardous chemicals, Medicaid expansion on the ballot in South Dakota, and libraries’ efforts to meet the growing social service needs of their patrons. 

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Network for Public Health Law Comment to HHS Providing Evidence Showing Relationship Between Health and Voting

Network NewsCivic Engagement and Voting

January 11, 2022
by Dawn Hunter

The Network's Southeastern Region Director Dawn Hunter submitted a response on January 10 to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Solicitation of Written Comments on Proposed Healthy People 2030 Objectives and Request for Information on the Relationship Between Voter Participation and Health. Read the response here. The Healthy People initiative serves as key guidance to health departments and their partners in developing a robust and comprehensive agenda that improves public health and health equity in the communities they serve.

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Implicit Bias and Public Health Law

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

January 11, 2022

Implicit bias is when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. Implicit bias is unintentional and automatic, but it affects how we process information, make decisions, and act. With respect to public health law, we must be cognizant of the myriad ways in which implicit bias can manifest at every stage from program development and enactment to enforcement issues.  

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