The Biden administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness represents a seminal shift in U.S. response efforts at a critical juncture of the pandemic with thousands of Americans dying each day. Supplemented by multiple Executive Orders and other legal maneuvers, it also implicates a series of legal opportunities and challenges ahead. Attend this webinar for a real-time briefing from Network Western Region Director James G. Hodge, Jr. on current and forthcoming plans and potential legal issues underlying their implementation. Learn more and register.
The No Surprises Act: Congress Acts against Costly Medical Bills
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.
Federal PREP Act Liability Protections for COVID-19 Vaccination
Local health departments play a crucial role in prescribing and administering COVID-19 vaccines and in supervising and administering COVID-19 vaccination programs. This new role has raised questions about the liability protections available to local health departments and their employees under the Federal PREP Act. This guidance addresses the extent to which a local health department and its employees are protected from liability when administering COVID-19 vaccines.
State Fact Sheets: Legal Protections for Public Health Officials
Nationwide, state and local public health officials working to protect the public from COVID-19 are on the receiving end of threatening and harassing conduct. Many states have criminal statutes punishing individuals who impede public health officials’ duties with such behavior. This resource collection includes facts sheets for each of the 35 states with such protective statutes, noting the specific code or statute, definitions and penalties.
Increasing Access to Opioid Agonist Treatment: An Innovative, Cross-Sector Approach
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET | February 25, 2021
The opioid overdose epidemic remains one of the most urgent public health issues in the United States today. Despite the proven effectiveness of utilizing opioid agonist treatment (OAT) to treat those experiencing an opioid use disorder, a multitude of structural and policy barriers prevent them from accessing treatment. Attend this webinar to learn about an innovative, multi-sector approach to identifying and removing barriers to OAT in eight sectors: health care, the criminal legal system, family law, housing, zoning, transportation, education and youth, and employment—as outlined in the newly released paper, A Cross Sector Approach to Removing Legal and Policy Barriers to Opioid Agonist Treatment.
Undergraduate Public Health Law Survey
Researchers at the University of Rochester are soliciting survey responses from those teaching undergraduate courses in public health. They note that despite extensive graduate level teaching of core courses in public health law among law, public health, and medical schools, considerably less is known as to whether similar courses are taught in undergraduate public health programs at universities, colleges and junior colleges nationally. You can participate in the survey here.
The Purdue Pharma Opioid Settlement — Accountability, or Just the Cost of Doing Business?
In this op-ed piece, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Corey Davis, deputy director of the Network’s Southeastern Region Office and director of the Network’s Harm Reduction Legal Project, outlines the enormity of the impact of Purdue Pharma’s efforts to market its opioid products despite evidence of the significant harm they were causing, and the question as to whether the resulting litigations and settlements adequately address the company’s culpability.
Podcast: Declarations of Racism as a Public Health Crisis: A Policy Tool for Real-World Solutions and Meaningful Change
After the murder of George Floyd, a number of jurisdictions formally declared racism a public health crisis. Dawn Hunter, deputy director of the Network’s Southeastern Region is studying these declarations to see how cities, counties, and states actually take action to follow through. Dawn talks with Dr. Josh Sharfstein from Johns Hopkins about what the declarations actually do and why they are important, and how they put in place real world solutions to combat systemic racism and create healthier communities where everyone can thrive.
Podcast: COVID-19 Law & Policy Briefing: Vaccine Distribution
Though COVID vaccine production is ramping up, the U.S. is lagging well behind schedule in distributing and administering available vaccines. Efforts at the state level are being further hampered by slapdash attempts at coordination and a growing resistance to receiving the vaccine among certain populations. What can employers, schools and governments legally do to encourage uptake? In this podcast, the Network’s National Director Donna Levin joins Nicolas Terry of Indiana University, Micah Berman of Ohio State University, and Dorit Reiss of UC Hastings to analyze best practices and sound strategies to get vaccine distribution back on track.
State COVID-19 Data and Policy Actions
This resource from KFF includes state-level data on a variety of COVID-19 metrics, including the latest hotspots and hospitalizations; cases, deaths, and vaccinations by race and ethnicity; and cases and deaths at long-term care facilities. It also provides up-to-date information on state policy actions on social distancing measures and reducing barriers to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
APHA Law Section Call for Abstracts
The APHA Law Section seeks abstracts that focus on current hot topics in public health law and/or are relevant to APHA’s 2021 Annual Meeting & Expo theme, “Strengthening Social Connectedness.” The deadline for submissions is March 21, 2021.
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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.