With some sadness and a great deal of gratitude, we are announcing that Dan Stier, J.D., Director of the National Coordinating Center (NCC) of the Network, will retire from his post and the practice of law on May 1, 2013 to pursue the many personal interests — from music to travel and writing — that he set aside while guiding the creation, 2010 launch and early operation of the Network. Dan’s career in law spans 39 years, and his extensive experience and connections in public health law contributed greatly to the establishment of the Network as a highly valuable resource in public health.
The Network will begin a national search for a new NCC Director in March.
Nearly 40 percent of Americans do not have access to paid sick days, making it difficult for them to miss work when they are ill or have a doctor’s appointment. Those who do stay home suffer lost wages or risk losing their job. Those who choose to work while sick often risk exposing co-workers and others to illnesses. Paid sick leave allows employees who are sick to stay home or seek preventive care without the negative consequences. Join the Network for a webinar in which presenters examine the need for paid sick days, review current laws, and explore the public health implications. The webinar takes place today, Thursday, February 21 from 1 – 2 p.m. (ET). It’s not too late to sign up – details and how to register here.
On January 17, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) omnibus final rule, meant to enhance patients’ privacy protections, provide individuals new rights to their health information, and strengthen the government’s ability to enforce the law. The final rule implements the modifications required by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). This fact sheet, developed by Network Staff Attorney Jennifer Bernstein, describes the changes that will take effect on March 26, 2013 because of this final rule.
Over two-thirds of American adults and nearly one-third of children are overweight or obese. Americans increasingly recognize this issue as a serious societal problem, with 75 percent of survey respondents stating that obesity is an extremely or very serious issue. This awareness, along with a new focus on legal avenues that can be used to prevent and reduce obesity, creates a unique opportunity for the public health law community to reverse this epidemic. Daniel G. Orenstein, Deputy Director at the Network’s Western Region, examines potential approaches in his new blog post. Read more.
Awareness of concussion risk in sports is increasing at incredible rates. In 2009, states rapidly began passing legislation designed to educate and ensure that athletes do not return to play before a concussion is properly healed. By the end of 2012, 42 states and the District of Columbia had passed laws regarding youth sports concussions. The Network recently conducted an interview study to explore states' experiences with implementing youth sports concussion laws. Network Attorney, Kerri Lowrey, shares some preliminary findings from this study, and reveals some unexpected results. Read more.
Recently the Network received a request from a local health official working on emergency preparedness issues. The official was developing plans to utilize Closed Points of Distribution (Closed PODS) during emergencies. A Closed POD is operated by a business or community organization that partners with a local health agency to distribute medication and medical supplies during an emergency. A number of potential legal issues are implicated in the operation of a Closed POD, including possible liability risks for the entity serving as a POD. The official asked the Network for any available resources on the liability of organizations acting as PODs as well as individuals distributing medications.
The Network provided the official with several resources and a summary of the major issues covered in each. Resources provided included an ASTHO fact sheet on the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act as well as a Network Issue Brief entitled "Legal Issues Relevant to Private Entities Serving as Closed Points of Dispensing in Emergencies.”
Contact the Network to get legal assistance.
Nearly one in five elderly patients is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of leaving. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released a new report which shows that hospitals and their community allies made little progress in reducing the number of hospital readmissions from 2008 to 2010. The report highlights 32 interviews with patients who experience readmission, as well as health care providers and caregivers who care for readmitted patients. These interviews provide insight on what causes these repeat trips to the hospital. Read more.
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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.