Despite repeated attacks by opponents in the past 10 years, the ACA has not only survived – it has thrived. Because of the law, millions of people gained insurance coverage for the first time. Millions more have increased security when insured, benefitting from prohibitions on discrimination by insurers and protections for people with preexisting conditions. In this commentary, Sarah Somers, J.D., M.P.H., managing attorney at the Network’s Southeastern Region Office, reflects on a decade of significant events and greatest successes in the ACA’s history, and provides a preview of things to come. Read more.
As Children Transition to In-Person Learning, USDA Announces Important Measures to Ensure Food Security and Safety of Students
Food insecurity skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this parallel pandemic of hunger deeply affects America’s children with an estimated 12 million children experiencing food insecurity. Prior to the pandemic, the free and reduced-price school meal programs were critical tools for addressing food insecurity, serving an estimated 22 million children. A recent announcement by the USDA details new measures designed to help feed students as they transition back to in-person learning.
Social Determinants of Health Legislation: Opportunities for a New Future
Since as early as 2008, we have known the integral role the Social Determinants of Health (SDOHs) play in health outcomes. However, it was not until 2020 that Congress acknowledged public health’s important role in “working across sectors on social determinants of health” and funded an SDOH pilot program. Although the project is a step in the right direction, we must also support policies and legislation that directly addresses the SDOHs, including the Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021 recently reintroduced to the House of Representatives.
Public Health Law News Roundup
Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s move to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars; President Biden’s plan to strengthen America's digital infrastructure; new federal guidelines to increase access to an important opioid use disorder treatment; threats and harassment directed at public health officials due to COVID-19; the corrosive impact of racism on the health of Black Americans; how public health can be improved by addressing climate change; and Oregon’s newly passed legislation designed to help prevent youth suicide.
State and Local Efforts to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis – Southeastern Region Update
Last summer, as the disparities in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continued to worsen and amid racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd, cities, counties, states, and other agencies and organizations increasingly issued formal resolutions declaring racism a public health crisis. These resolutions and formal statements are an important first step in calling attention to racism in a way that can drive resource allocation and changes to law and policy. Each of the Network's five Region Offices have assessed the resolutions issued in jurisdictions in their region. This issue brief is the first in this series.
Incentivizing Fresh Food Retail in Food Deserts: Lessons Learned from Pennsylvania and Maryland
The term "food desert” describes communities that have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. In the United States, food deserts occur most typically in urban and rural low-income neighborhoods and are more prevalent in communities of color. This issue brief examines barriers to increasing healthy food retail in food deserts and the implementation of Fresh Food Financing Initiatives (FFFI) to overcome these barriers.
Deterring Serial Eviction Filing
Between 2000 and 2016, more than 61 million eviction complaints were filed in the United States. However, not all eviction filings result in an executed eviction, when a tenant is removed from their home. Data suggest that there was roughly one eviction filing for every 17 renter households during this time, but far fewer—only one in 40 renter households—were actually removed. One reason for the disproportionate number of filings is the practice of serial eviction filing. These repeated filings remain on a tenant’s public record and can have long-lasting limitations on their ability to qualify for future housing. This fact sheet examines potential policy solutions to address this practice.
Laws Regarding Minor Consent to Health Care: Maryland and D.C.
Authority to consent to medical care directly impacts the health and wellness of minors. Familiarity with consent laws enables medical professionals to better provide healthcare to patients under 18 years of age. These issue briefs review several aspects of laws in Maryland and D.C. that are critical to the issue of consent to medical care, detailing the ways these laws provide for minors to consent to their own care. They also address when someone other than a parent or guardian may consent to treatment for a minor.
Lessons from the 2020 Election Cycle
The Network has joined with public health law partners to produce a new report, COVID-19 Policy Playbook: Legal Recommendations for a Safer, More Equitable Future, examining policy challenges and opportunities in light of the pandemic. In this Q&A, Dawn Hunter, deputy director of the Network’s Southeastern Region Office, discusses some of the key elements in the chapter she authored, "Lessons from the 2020 Election Cycle," for the Report.
Equitable Rebuilding from COVID-19: Ensuring Quality Care for Vulnerable Populations
1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EST | May 11, 2021
While the pandemic has negatively affected all Americans, for those in need of critical care who have been unable to access such care, the pandemic has proven particularly damaging. Attend this webinar to learn the unique impacts the pandemic has had on some of our most vulnerable populations and what law and policy changes can be made to improve access to needed care and to better protect these populations during future public health crises.
A User’s Guide to Legislative Health Notes: A Step-By-Step Guide for Researchers and Policy Analysts
The Health Impact Project—a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts— developed “health notes” to help policymakers understand the health implications of proposed legislation using this policy analysis tool. The notes consist of brief, objective, nonpartisan summaries outlining a bill’s potential positive and negative health effects, drawing on the best available peer-reviewed research, scientific data, and public health expertise to illuminate the ways it might improve or harm constituent health, with an emphasis on disproportionate impacts on specific populations. This step-by-step guide shows researchers and policy analysts how to conduct health notes.
Program Associate (National Office)
The Network has an opening for a Program Associate. The Program Associate will be responsible for supporting program activities for the Network including data and reporting, website, conference and meetings support. The Program Associate must have the ability to work collaboratively within project teams, and interact effectively with staff, leadership, consultants, members, funders and sponsors. Apply today.
The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) seeks a state policy analyst to serve for a three to six month term. The analyst will be responsible for collecting and analyzing state and territorial laws of public health significance and producing law and policy materials. The analyst will also serve as a resource on public health law and policy and will respond to requests for assistance and information from members, affiliates, and national organizations.
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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.