Network Report
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Accompanying the growth of the use of community health workers (CHWs) in public health is an evolving area of legislation and regulation as well as legal considerations for employers as they integrate CHWs into their workforce. In this Q&AHeather McCabe, JD, MSW, Associate Professor, Indiana University School of Social Work and Colleen Healy Boufides, J.D., Senior Attorney, Network for Public Health Law Mid-States Region Office comment on some of the key issues addressed in their legal brief, Legal Considerations for Community Health Workers and their Employers."

Law and Policy Perspectives:

Expanding Scope of Practice for Health Care Providers: Improved Access and Cost Savings for Patients

With the cost of care in the United States skyrocketing and millions of individuals struggling to access care at all, policymakers must consider new ways to get patients in front of providers at a lower cost. One way in which states have taken action is through scope of practice expansions for health professionals.  

 
National School Lunch Program - More Flexibility, Less Nutrition

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) was last modified in 2012 by the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, which established nutrition standards for school meals consistent with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The USDA has announced that it will soon implement less stringent standards for school lunch nutrition regarding the requirements for whole grains, sodium, and milk.

Public Health Pushes Back Against Proposed EPA Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a regulation that could undermine the agency’s mission to protect human and environmental health. The regulation would require research data underlying EPA regulatory actions to be made accessible to the public. Experts argue that the proposed regulation threatens the EPA’s access to confidential information that it needs to regulate pollutants and design health policies.

Resources:

HIPAA Hybrid Toolkit

To improve important data sharing, health departments that elected to be fully covered by HIPAA should re-evaluate the option to generally restrict HIPAA to only those programs that are required under law to comply with HIPAA. The Hybrid Toolkit includes legal, policy and practical guidance to understand and implement HIPAA’s hybrid entity option.

Issue Brief: Legal Considerations for Community Health Workers and their Employers

For decades, community health workers (CHWs) have improved access to health in underserved communities across the globe by helping to make health care, education, and prevention efforts more accessible and culturally relevant to their communities. This issue brief explores legal issues relating to the regulation and employment of community health workers. It outlines the authority for states to regulate CHWs, describes types of state legislation and activity currently affecting CHWs, and provides considerations for employers utilizing the services of CHWs.

Webinar:

Tackling Tough Public Health Problems through Cross-Sector Data Collaborations

February 28, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EST

Get an in-depth look at a cross-sector collaboration in Illinois between public health, law enforcement, emergency medical services, a fire department and a jail aimed at addressing the needs of high utilizers of behavioral health services.

 

Legal Technical Assistance Highlight:

Case Law on Religious Exemptions to Vaccination Requirements

The director of an immunization advocacy group recently contacted the Network for some examples of legal cases discussing challenges to religious exemptions to vaccination requirements. The Network provided the following cases in which individuals had been denied a religious exemption by the state and had then appealed to the courts to have their religious exemption recognized. Included are the respective states’ current laws on religious exemptions.

Worth Sharing:

Law Enforcement and Public Health: How North Carolina Became a Leader in Harm Reduction Policy Change

Network deputy director Corey Davis has co-authored a chapter in the book, “Critical Approaches to Harm Reduction: Conflict, Institutionalization, (De-)Politicization, and Direct Action,” titled “Law Enforcement and Public Health: How North Carolina Became a Leader in Harm Reduction Policy Change.” The chapter focuses on the development and implementation of two harm reduction laws that passed in the 2013 legislative session in North Carolina, a Southern state with a political and social climate traditionally resistant to harm reduction pragmatism.

Promoting Health and Cost Control: How States Can Improve Community Health and Well-being Through Policy Change

The report by the Trust for America’s Health highlights 13 evidence-based policies, all outside the healthcare sector, that if adopted by states can improve the health and well-being of their residents. It provides detailed information on the recommended policies, including descriptions, summaries of the health and economic evidence, case examples, and considerations for design and implementation.

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 Network 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.