Network Report


In a recent message, Network National Director Donna Levin laid out a vision for our health justice work in 2018. We’d like to know what health justice means to you: give us your insights. Your feedback will help guide our programming for the year and will inform our planning for the 2018 Public Health Law Conference


Law and Policy Perspectives:
Public Health Emergency Declaration Falls Short of Expanding Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Rural Communities

Rural residents are 45 percent more likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than people who live in urban areas. While medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has proven highly effective in treating opioid addiction, barriers to this and other treatment options are particularly pronounced in rural areas. Action at the federal level could alleviate many, if not most, of these barriers.


Medicaid and Work Requirements - Kentucky's "Experiment"

For the first time, the federal government has given a state permission to impose work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage. As troubling as these policy developments are, there is a more disturbing assumption underlying them. In its efforts to justify work requirements as a legitimate feature of a Medicaid program, the administration relies on a distorted concept of the social determinants of health.


Issue Brief: Mandatory Drug Stewardship Programs

Unused and expired medications that accumulate in the home pose an increased risk for drug misuse and for improper disposal that compromises the environment.  Despite federal efforts to facilitate the creation of drug take-back programs, few exist due to expense and inconvenience. In response, some local and municipal governments have enacted mandatory local drug take-back programs, funded and managed by pharmaceutical companies or producers.


Issue Brief: New Federal Paradigm In Marijuana Legalization

Despite drastic expansion of marijuana legalization throughout U.S. states in recent years, federal guidance issued in January 2018 is at odds with this movement, imparting legal uncertainty on the future of the marijuana industry. This Issue Brief reviews the current federal legal framework regarding marijuana control and explores possible options for federal, state, and local governments in the near future.


Executive Decision Making and Liability for Public Health Officials

January 25, 1:00 -2:30 p.m. EST

Public health officials have great discretion in carrying out their responsibilities to protect health. However, this discretion can be legally challenged by individuals, organizations, and government. Co-sponsored by the Network and the Partnership for Public Health Law, this webinar examines public health authority and related challenges, and explores tools that can assist with decision-making in response to public health threats.   


Legal Technical Assistance Highlight:
HIPAA Compliance and Smart Phone Usage

Any mobile device that receives, transmits or stores protected health information (PHI) must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While organizations often have HIPAA polices that cover all forms of communications, mobile phones have their own set of privacy issues, prompting some public health agencies to seek guidance about whether they should adopt stand-alone HIPAA policies for mobile device usage.

Worth Sharing:
Healthy Food Policy Project

Food law and policy experts at the Public Health Law Center, the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School, and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut have launched the Healthy Food Policy Project (HFPP), which identifies and elevates local laws and policies that promote access to healthy food, and contribute to strong local economies, improved environmental quality, and health equity.

Understanding the Public Health Landscape

This report from the National Association of County and City Health Officials contains findings on issues faced by local health departments in an evolving public health environment. Challenges identified in the report include budget cuts and staff shortages, the emergence of new infectious diseases like the Zika virus, and increasingly complex health challenges that call for multi-sectoral partnerships.

Thank You!
Your interest in the work of the Network is important. Together, we can advance law as a tool to improve public health. Please forward the Report and encourage others to join the Network!

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.