Public Health Law News Roundup – February
March 1, 2017
Some of the public health law and policy issues that made headlines in February include the impact of Mexico’s soda tax, new federal rules to better serve patients of home health agencies, and proposed changes to CDC’s quarantine powers.
Sales Fall Again in Mexico’s Second Year of Taxing Soda – New York Times
Since passing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014, Mexico has seen sales of sugary beverages drop for two years straight. The finding suggests the potential impact sizable taxes on sugary drinks might have on consumption. Several American cities, including Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland and the Illinois county that contains Chicago, have recently passed soda taxes similar to the one in Mexico.
A U.S. appeals court struck down a Florida law that barred doctors from asking patients about gun ownership, ruling that the law violated doctors’ right to free speech. The Firearms Owners’ Privacy Act, passed in 2011, allowed doctors to ask patients about gun ownership only if they had a reason to believe that the information was medically relevant.
In an effort to improve access to oral health care, particularly among low-income and rural populations, twelve U.S. states are considering programs to educate and license dental therapists. Dental therapists are mid-level oral health care professionals trained to perform routine dental procedures, such as fillings and tooth extractions, while leaving dentists to perform procedures that are more complex. A handful of states and tribes currently allow for the licensing of dental therapists.
New Federal Rules Will Require Home Health Agencies To Do Much More For Patients – Kaiser Health News
In the first major overhaul of the rules governing home health agencies in almost 30 years, new federal regulations, published last month, will require home health agencies to be more responsive to patients and their caregivers. The regulations specify the conditions home health agencies must meet in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The regulations strengthen patients’ rights and call for caregivers to be informed and engaged in plans for patient care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may get enhanced powers to quarantine people as part of an effort to stop outbreaks from contagious diseases. Under the current rules, CDC’s authority is primarily limited to detaining people entering the country or crossing state lines. Under the proposed rules, CDC would be able to detain people anywhere in the country without getting approval from local and state health officials. Some legal experts feel the move is necessary to address the potential threat of infectious disease, while others believe the proposed changes would give the CDC too much power and would not provide sufficient safeguards to protect an individual’s rights.
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