Network Report



Current Issues in Public Health Law

The Continuing Threat of Childhood Lead Poisoning

While child lead poisoning rates have dropped significantly over the last two decades, the harmful effects of lead poisoning on children — including a lower IQ and long-term behavioral health problems — remain a threat, especially to children in low-income families. But a number of changes in policies related to blood lead screening may leave these children with limited preventive options.

Read about changes in lead screening policies.

LGBT Youth Victimization and the Role of Law

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are more likely to be victims of physical violence and are at a higher risk of depression and suicide. Bias against LGBT individuals is increasingly recognized as a public health concern, and a number of discriminatory laws and policies contribute to the problem.

Learn about laws that impact the health of LGBT youth.

Former Meth Houses: Health Hazard and Financial Burden

Former meth labs pose a serious public health threat. Those who unknowingly purchase a house with a former meth lab could end up with a toxic living space and a major financial burden for cleanup. This new blog post with accompanying video explores one family’s plight, and the laws and regulations that address meth lab remediation.

Read more about meth houses.

Public Health Law Resources

Primary Care Provider Capacity and the Medicaid Expansion

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to provide health insurance coverage to 33 million currently uninsured individuals starting in 2014, including up to 17 million new Medicaid beneficiaries. Bringing so many new individuals into coverage represents an extraordinary opportunity to improve access to care, enhance preventive medicine, and take steps towards building a healthier population and a more affordable healthcare system. However, coverage only helps if beneficiaries can access a provider when they need one. Our new issue brief focuses on the challenges Medicaid beneficiaries may face in accessing primary care providers.

View the Primary Care Provider Issue Brief.

Scope of Practice of Dental Hygienists in Mississippi

Many Americans suffer from poor oral health, which can have profound negative consequences to overall health, including oral health conditions, adverse pregnancy outcomes, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Adequate dental care is necessary to maintain optimal oral health, but access isn’t always easy, especially in Mississippi, where there are dental provider shortages. In a recent report addressing access to oral health care, the Institute of Medicine identified restrictive regulation of allied dental health professionals, such as dental hygienists, as a barrier to accessing care. This issue brief provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the scope of practice of dental hygienists in Mississippi.

View the issue brief.

Emergency Response and Tort Liability

A "tort" is an injury to another person or to property, which is compensable under the law. During an emergency or disaster, health care may be provided under stressful conditions, and both paid and volunteer health professionals involved in emergency response activities may be concerned about potential liability for their actions or omissions. Our new resource outlines federal and Michigan laws that might apply to protect individuals from liability for negligence.

View the Tort Liability Issue Brief.

Webinar: Zoning for the Public’s Health

Neighborhood design can play a significant role in public health. Recent research explores how zoning laws can impact the ability to create well-designed neighborhoods that increase walkability and reduce crime – two outcomes integrally tied to improved health.  In this August 15 webinar, presenters will share the latest public health law research that supports these findings, describe a new method for evaluating zoning laws, and examine case studies from the East and West coasts. This webinar is free and attendees may qualify for CLE credits.

Learn more and register.

Ask the Experts:

Affordable Care Act Menu Labeling Standards

The Network recently received an inquiry about federal standards for menu labeling and how they impact policies implemented by local governments. The requester specifically asked whether the federal standards defined in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pre-empt a local municipality’s power to create nutritional standards that apply to all food establishments.

See explanation of ACA menu labeling requirements.

Contact the Network to get legal assistance.

Mentors Wanted

The Network is seeking mentors for our Public Health Law Mentorship program. Mentors will have the opportunity to help guide a student or new professional in a career in the public health law field. Please contact Brooke Nunn by Friday, August 16, to learn more about this program and how you can participate.

Public Health Law Research

Almost every law or regulation affects the public’s health — from an environmental or safety regulation, to the whole swath of economic, education and social policies. Written by the nation’s foremost public health law researchers, Public Health Law Research: Theory & Methods describes the many ways laws can affect health.

Network People

Veda Collmer is a Visiting Attorney at the Network’s Western Region, where she is currently investigating a potential option to negate the impact of tobacco display power walls on children — specifically limiting the use of the tobacco displays in retail stores located within a specified distance from schools. Before joining the Network, Veda interned with the New York State Department of Health and Human Service, and worked with elected officials to create health policies, such as smoking cessation programs and universal healthcare.

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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.