Voting Rights: Why They Should be Included in Declarations of Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Law & Policy InsightsCivic Engagement and VotingMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

December 15, 2021
by Dawn Hunter

Voting is a way to shape the policies that impact how we live our lives – where we can afford to live, whether our neighborhoods are safe, the quality of the school system we send our children to, whether we are paid a living wage, how tax dollars are invested in our communities, and so much more. When a group of people is systematically prevented from fully engaging in the democratic process, the end result is a system that does not reflect the diversity of the peoples and perspectives it serves. Health equity can be advanced by removing barriers to participation in the electoral process, and that starts with acknowledging that those barriers exist. Declarations of racism as a public health crisis are one way to do just that.

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Climate Change, Health Equity, and Public Health Law Learning and Practice Collaborative

Network NewsEnvironment, Climate and HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

December 8, 2021
by April Shaw and Madeline Kim

The Network for Public Health Law is accepting applications for the Climate Change, Health Equity, and Public Health Law Learning and Practice Collaborative (Climate LPC) – a learning and practice collaborative for partners interested in the intersection of climate change and health equity to discuss law and policy solutions to mitigate public health impacts from climate change.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Law and Policy Developments Affecting the Disability Community

Law & Policy InsightsInjury Prevention and SafetyMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMedicaidSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

December 2, 2021
by Amy Lieberman, Colleen Healy Boufides and Morgan Jones-Axtell

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed annually to promote awareness and support for the rights and wellbeing of people with disabilities. One in four adults in the United States have a disability, and solutions to advance accessibility, inclusion, and equity must account for the diversity of experiences among people with disabilities. To mark the occasion, Network attorneys highlight recent law and policy developments related to health equity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. 

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Improving Data Sharing for Tribal Health: What Public Health Departments Need to Understand About HIPAA Data Privacy Requirements

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Information and Data SharingMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityTribal Health

December 2, 2021
by Sallie Milam

Tribes, tribal organizations and Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) need continuous and routine access to comprehensive and specific public health data to drive public health decision making, just as state and local health departments do, particularly during the current pandemic.  Sharing these data with tribal public health authorities is essential to address the health disparities experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives. However, due to confusion around HIPAA Privacy Rule requirements, many health departments are unaware that they are able to share public health data with any other public health authority, including tribal organizations and TECs.  

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Addressing Disparities in Crisis Standard of Care Implementation

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityCrisis Standards of Care

November 17, 2021
by Jennifer Piatt

While the impacts of the pandemic have shifted slightly over time, COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact Hispanic, Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native populations. These disparities have also shone a light on decision-making tools incorporated into Crisis Standard of Care plans, which are intended to save the most lives through triage decisions when resources are scarce and patient populations are surging, as they have been during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is critical that triage policies incorporate equitable allocation criteria to avoid continued and exacerbation of disparities, and to begin attempts to reduce and eliminate them.

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COVID-19’s Impact on Childbirth: The Growing Popularity of Out-of-Hospital Deliveries and Barriers to Access

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19COVID-19 and Health EquityMaternal and Child Health

November 17, 2021
by Brianne Schell

Increased fear over the safety of hospitals along with policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including limiting the number of guests allowed in delivery rooms, mandating inductions or caesarian sections, and separating newborns from birthing parents suspected of having COVID-19, has driven many families to make the decision to give birth at home or at a birthing center. The increased demand for out-of-hospital deliveries has quickly overwhelmed the limited number of birth centers and midwives providing home birth services in the U.S.–highlighting a gap in the country’s healthcare system. Changes in state licensure schemes and practice regulations for midwives and birthing centers could make out-of-hospital births more accessible and affordable.

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Dual Epidemics of COVID-19 and Overdose Highlight Impact of Structural Racism

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Opioid Misuse and Overdose PreventionRacism as a Public Health Crisis

October 20, 2021
by Corey Davis

The United States remains in the grip of both COVID-19 and drug-related harm. Both are public health emergencies marked by tens of thousands of preventable deaths – and both disproportionately impact Black, Hispanic, Native, and other non-White people. Addressing the structural racism that drive inequality in access to economic opportunity, educational attainment, and other factors that ultimately drives health disparities must be a key public health priority – both during the dual COVID and overdose epidemics and beyond.  

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Recent Federal Policy Changes Improve Buprenorphine Access, but X-Waiver Remains a Barrier for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

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

October 20, 2021
by Corey Davis

The medications for opioid use disorder, methadone and buprenorphine, can reduce overdose deaths by over 50 percent. Unfortunately, many people who want to access these medications are unable to do so  because of federal and state legal restrictions, primarily the federal X-waiver, which a physician must obtain in order to prescribe these medications. While the requirement itself is statutory and can only be changed by Congress, the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS)  have a great deal of autonomy in determining its exact contours.

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