Some of the public health law and policy stories that made headlines recently include a Justice Department declaration that key provisions of the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional; a proposed change to a Medicaid rule to address the opioid crisis; rising suicide rates in the U.S.; the multi-state hepatitis A virus outbreak; studies showing the effectiveness of certain gun laws; and Virginia’s decision to expand its Medicaid programs.
The U.S. is experiencing its worst outbreak of hepatitis A in over 20 years. The outbreak has primarily affected people experiencing homelessness (PEH) due to their lack of access to sanitation and hygiene facilities. In Los Angeles alone, one study found only nine public toilets for every 1,777 PEH. As a result, the city has initiated community and local government interventions designed to address this shortfall.
Extension programs connect land grant universities and the larger public, bringing academic research to communities that can apply it. Programming at the recently held National Health Outreach Conference, sponsored by the Cooperative Extension System, focused on engaging in a culture of health and highlighted ways in which Extension programs are collaborating with others to advance community health.
Tax exemptions can be used effectively to encourage the purchase of consumer goods that support public health and safety by reducing the rate of injury or death. A few states have passed sales tax exemptions that fit the bill for public health, including exemptions for child car seats, bicycle helmets, and fire-safety equipment for homes. But these types of tax exemptions are often underutilized.
Many of us use smartphones every day to send text messages, share videos, get from point A to point B, and even share our location with another person. While these services are of particular value during an emergency, they are not available to many 911 dispatch centers and emergency services around the country. In Maryland, legislation was passed to advance Next Generation 911 in the state.
The Flint, Michigan, water crisis was a manmade disaster that resulted in the poisoning of thousands of children and adults after lead leached into the city’s drinking water; sadly, the harm to Flint residents is still impacting the community today. In this Q&A, Network senior attorney Colleen Healy Boufides, discusses a report she co-authored that examines the legal failures that lead to the crisis as well as what can be learned with regard to public health practice to protect other communities.
In the aftermath of the killing of 17 people and the injuring of 15 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida, the Trump administration has considered advocating for various gun control measures, including strengthening of the national background check system (NICS) and a ban on bump-stocks (devices that fully automate semi-automatic weapons). There are additional evidence-based gun control measures that have demonstrated efficacy in preventing gun deaths and injuries in several states.
Q&A with Jane Perkins. As we prepare for the 2018 Public Health Law Conference featuring sessions focused on health justice, Network attorneys reflect on their work and what health justice means to them.
WIC is a highly effective program that helps address the food insecurity of young children. However, WIC benefits end at age five, the assumption being that children will start school and participate in the National School Lunch Program. However, thousands of children do not start school until age six, leaving a critical gap in benefits and creating negative effects on the food security of families.
Supervised consumption spaces (SCS) provide safe spaces where persons can consume opioids under the supervision of licensed medical professionals. SCS have proven effective at reducing overdose deaths in those countries where they have been studied. In the U.S., SCS face legal challenges that statewide legal reforms (or in some cases, emergency declarations) seek to address.