Over the past decade, and well before the onset of COVID-19, state and local departments of health and other entities have needed support in their emergency legal preparedness and response efforts. However, the pandemic has significantly changed the landscape of law and policy implementation in response to a public health crisis. In this commentary, James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM, director of the Network’s Western Region Office, reflects on a decade of major challenges in real-time responses to public health emergencies. Read more.
American Rescue Plan Act Provides Opportunity for Syringe Access
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law on March 11, 2021. While most media attention focused on its headline provisions, including $1,400 stimulus checks for many individuals, $350 billion in aid to state, local, and tribal governments, and expansions in the Earned Income Tax Credit and child tax credit, the Act also contains historic assistance for harm reduction programs.
Power Sharing, Capacity Building, and Community Leadership: Common Elements of Public Health Practice and Community Lawyering
Community lawyering is an approach to social justice that de-centers lawyers as the linchpins of change and instead focuses on empowering communities and movements. Community lawyering reflects many of the core values and activities included in the 2020 10 Essential Public Health Services. There are opportunities for partnership and knowledge sharing between community lawyers, public health practitioners, and the communities they serve; and the strengths of each can be leveraged to advance sustainable health equity.
Public Health Law News Round-Up
Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include changes to SNAP program eligibility requirements; President Biden’s plan to expand Medicaid coverage; Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling on statewide mask mandate; extension of the federal eviction moratorium; legislative proposals to curb emergency powers; racial disparities in health care and vaccination challenges in Missouri due to outsourcing of vaccine distribution.
Law and Policy Pathways to Preventing Housing Instability
Housing instability causes and exacerbates health problems, erodes communities, and drives health inequities. Eviction specifically imposes damaging health consequences that can last lifetimes, or even generations. Laws and policies at both the state and community levels can work to address these negative impacts and promote housing stability. This tool outlines the law and policy actions that can be taken to address housing instability.
State Laws Addressing Discrimination against Medical Cannabis Patients
Thirty-six states and Washington, D.C. recognize medical cannabis as a lawful medication. However, the law in many of these states fails to adequately protect patients in their efforts to secure employment, enroll in school, rent a home, or even secure child custody or visitation rights. Treating medical cannabis patients differently from other patients is inherently discriminatory and produces harmful stigma, which creates negative short- and long-term health effects. This issue brief examines the range of state legal protections focused on preventing discrimination and will discuss the importance of these protections in securing the health and wellbeing of medical cannabis patients.
Legal Protections to Prevent Discrimination Against Medical Cannabis Patients
TODAY: 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EST | April 8
Despite legal recognition and medical oversight, medical cannabis patients are often subject to harmful discrimination that can impact their employment opportunities, housing options, educational opportunities, and other vital aspects of their lives. States are beginning to recognize that this discrimination is a serious public health challenge that requires legal intervention to address its harmful effects. Attend this webinar to learn about the variety of state legislative protections provided to medical cannabis patients and how medical cannabis is treated by state workers’ compensation programs.
Ensuring Changes in Emergency Powers and Public Health Authority Will Protect Health
1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EST | April 15, 2021
Even as most in public health, health care, and emergency services are focused on getting vaccines in arms and responding to the medical, economic, and social impacts of COVID-19, new laws are being made that have serious implications in the near term and for future public health emergencies. Attend this webinar to learn about the nature of the laws being announced from the judicial bench or proposed in state legislatures; the process by which they are being formulated in every level and branch of government; and the principles that should guide legal developments as we seek to balance the facts, expert opinion, and civic participation, as well as guard against harmful unforeseen consequences.
Sessions Posted for 2021 Public Health Law Conference: Building and Supporting Healthy Communities for All
September 21 – 23, 2021 | Baltimore, MD
View the preliminary schedule and session descriptions for the 2021 Public Health Law Conference. Five tracks and 40 sessions will examine how the strategic use of legal and policy tools can address fundamental drivers of inequity, promote health and well-being, and save lives. Note: Due to current uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve adjusted our registration cancellation policy to allow for a full refund if conditions do not improve by fall. We hope this policy will give those planning to attend the conference more flexibility. We will provide registrants with regular updates.
Top Ten 2021: A Movement toward Racial Equity in Health Outcomes
In this podcast from American Health Law Association, Network attorney Dawn Hunter and Annapoorani Bhat, principal at the consulting firm PYA, discuss how health care disparities currently manifest in the U.S., ways to classify and frame racial bias, legislative and policy actions that have impacted health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities, and what hospitals and individuals can do to address this issue.
County Health Rankings and Roadmaps: 2021 Data Refresh
The County Health Rankings look at more than 30 factors—education, jobs, transportation, broadband access, and more that influence how long and well people live. The 2021 rankings have been updated and now include county quartiles, data on broadband access, and high school completion.
State Approaches to Improve Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems
This article from the National Academy for State Policy outlines the policies states have implemented in recent years that have successfully expanded access to schools’ mental health systems. It notes that the lessons learned from these initiatives can help address students’ growing mental health needs and may help reduce states’ health care costs by decreasing mental health-related emergency department visits, which have escalated during the pandemic.
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The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.