Public Health Law News Roundup – February 2021

Law & Policy Insights

February 10, 2021

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include planned charges in the Flint water probe; Supreme Court ruling on abortion issue; obstacles in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout; calls for better public health data to combat the pandemic; public health issues facing the Biden administration; the impact of the EPA’s ‘secret science’ rule; and controversy over proposed vaccination distribution strategies.

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Youth Violence Prevention: Balancing Student Surveillance, Privacy and Equity

Law & Policy InsightsHealth in SchoolInjury Prevention and SafetyMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

February 9, 2021
by Kerri McGowan Lowrey

The desire to predict and prevent violence by young people is understandable and valid, particularly in the wake of school violence tragedies like Columbine, Parkland, and Sandy Hook. Just this week, a teenager made national news when he shot and killed his entire family. Communities do have a valid interest in identifying its members who are more likely to perpetrate violence, even when those perpetrators are children. However, that interest must be carefully balanced with the equally important competing interests of privacy and equity.

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Ensuring Access to Clean Needles Can Save Lives, but Legal Barriers Persist

Law & Policy InsightsHarm Reduction Legal ProjectHarm Reduction Legal Project ResourcesOpioid Misuse and Overdose PreventionSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

February 5, 2021
by Amy Lieberman and Corey Davis

The United States continues to experience an unprecedented level of drug-related harm. While the failure to prevent this harm is most notable in the number of overdose deaths, which are now at their highest level on record, it is evident in other areas as well. Of particular importance from a policy perspective, bloodborne disease infections related to syringe sharing are also on the rise, with recent outbreaks in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Indiana, among other states. Cases of infective endocarditis, which is caused largely by unsafe injection, are increasing as well.

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The No Surprises Act: Congress Acts Against Costly Medical Bills

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

January 26, 2021
by Sarah Wetter

Each year, millions of Americans receive unexpected and often unaffordable medical bills that are not only an economic hardship, but can also dissuade them from seeking needed medical care in the future. On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the No Surprises Act as part of the $900 billion COVID-19 spending deal. The Act addresses one of the main causes of unexpected bills, banning the practice of “balance billing,” where out-of-network medical providers bill patients for costs not covered by the patient’s health insurance.

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Public Health Law News Roundup – January 2021

Law & Policy Insights

January 14, 2021

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include planned charges in the Flint water probe; Supreme Court ruling on abortion issue; obstacles in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout; calls for better public health data to combat the pandemic; public health issues facing the Biden administration; the impact of the EPA’s ‘secret science’ rule; and controversy over proposed vaccination distribution strategies.

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Systemic Racism and Intersectionality: To Get Practical, We Need to Get Theoretical

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthRacism as a Public Health Crisis

January 7, 2021
by April Shaw

With growing interest in tackling structural and other forms of racism, this is a good time to consider how theory is fundamental to bringing about meaningful, practical change. The theories that guide us may be consciously thought out or unreflectively adopted. Therefore, it is necessary to intentionally unpack and understand the norms and assumptions that are built into our day-to-day practices and long-term strategies to bring about reforms.

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Ordinances as a Tool for Increased Enforcement of COVID-19 Orders

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Social Distancing Measures

December 16, 2020
by Carrie Waggoner

As the pandemic in the U.S. continues to worsen, many states are requiring additional disease mitigation measures. While many governors continue to utilize their executive authority under state emergency management laws to protect the public’s health, enforcement of public health orders at the state and local level has been a challenge across the country. One potential solution is for local jurisdictions to utilize civil infractions as an enforcement mechanism for public health orders through the enactment of ordinances.

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Disease Outbreaks at Substance Use Treatment Facilities: Balancing Privacy and Public Health

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Information and Data SharingSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

December 16, 2020

The current pandemic demonstrates the need for careful and explicit consideration of public health reporting provisions in privacy law. In federally assisted substance use treatment facilities, a lack of clear and standardized public health reporting regulations raises questions about how communicable disease reporting occurs in these settings, including whether the burden of disease among specific patient populations is accurately tracked.

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Public Health Law News Roundup – November/December 2020

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19

December 16, 2020

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include challenges to public health powers; vaccine data and privacy concerns; COVID vaccination mandates and health care workers; California’s proposed legislation extending the state’s eviction moratorium; pandemic-induced food insecurity; the Biden administration’s plans for addressing the ongoing drug epidemic; vaccine distribution challenges faced by states; and the Supreme Court ruling on religious freedoms and COVID restrictions.

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