Network Report


Current Issues in Public Health Law

Public Health Goes to Court: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In June, federal and state courts tackled a number of cases with important implications for public health. While the Supreme Court ruled that companies with religious objections can be exempt from providing coverage for certain forms of contraception, a district court in New York dismissed a religious objection challenge to city and state law authorizing the exclusion of unvaccinated students from school during disease outbreaks. There were also a number of state court decisions limiting the authority of local boards of health.

More on court cases impacting public health.

Current Efforts in Drug Overdose Prevention: Progress and Challenges

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths from prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2010. While federal, state and local agencies are seeing progress towards evidence-based public health approaches to prevent deaths from drug overdose, challenges remain.

Learn more about current efforts in overdose prevention.

Revising the Game Plan: How States Are Updating Sports Concussion Laws

Every state and the District of Columbia have passed sports concussion laws that set protocols for recognition and management of concussion on the playing field in order to prevent catastrophic brain damage and even death. Many of these laws have been in effect for a few years, and legislatures are revisiting them and making changes that take into account developments in the field and challenges with implementation of original laws.

More on the recent changes in sports concussion laws.

Resource: Youth Sports Concussion Laws

According to the CDC, 52,000 die and 275,000 are hospitalized annually from traumatic brain injuries, also known as concussions. 173,285 of those concussions are youth-sports related. All 50 states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws to address this issue. This updated table provides a summary of youth sports concussion laws and their provisions.

View/download the Youth Sports Concussion Laws table.

Public Health Law Research

State Laws Governing Controlled Substance Prescription Monitoring Programs

Prescription monitoring programs (PMPs) — or state-level databases that collect patient-specific prescription information — have been suggested as a tool for reducing prescription drug overdose fatalities. Recent research on state laws governing PMPs from 1998 through 2011 reveals 10 states required PMPs to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, while only three required reporting to the patient’s physician. None required the PMP to proactively identify outlier patients to drug treatment programs. And none required licensed physicians and other prescribers to review the PMP data before prescribing.

More on PMP study.

Expanded Access to Naloxone

Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose if given in time. Paramedics routinely administer naloxone to opioid overdose victims in the prehospital setting, and many states are moving to increase access to the medication. Several jurisdictions have expanded naloxone administration authority to nonparamedic first responders, and others are considering that step. A recently published study examines policy change in Massachusetts, where several communities have equipped emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, and firefighters with naloxone.

View naloxone study.

2014 Public Health Law Conference

The full agenda for the 2014 Public Health Law Conference has been posted. Get details on the 40 sessions covering issues such as Affordable Care Act implementation, drug overdose prevention, health data privacy, emergency preparedness and marijuana regulation, as well as pre-conference workshops and plenary sessions.

View agenda and other conference information.

Upcoming Webinars

Advancing Infant Health: Addressing Disparities and Identifying Legal Strategies to Promote Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is proven to have significant health benefits for infants, providing nutrients and antibodies that promote health and fight illness. But for many mothers, social, political and economic challenges impede opportunities to breastfeed. This upcoming webinar will examine racial inequalities and their impact on breastfeeding support, and highlight legal and policy strategies to strengthen systems to support breastfeeding initiation and success. The webinar takes place on Thursday, August 21 at 1 p.m. (ET).

Learn more and register for the webinar.

Ask the Experts:

Extending Medicaid for Mothers Postpartum

According to, “Medicaid coverage for pregnant women includes prenatal care through the pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and for 60 days postpartum.” The Network was recently contacted by an advocate for child and maternal health who said organizations in her state are considering proposing a bill to extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum mothers up to one year after birth. The requestor asked if other states have extended coverage for mothers enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at the time of birth.

Read more about extended Medicaid coverage.

Assessment of Radiological Incidents Response Laws

The CDC Public Health Law Program recently published “Public Health Preparedness: Examination of Legal Language Authorizing Responses to Radiological Incidents,” an assessment of state and local laws that authorize restriction of movement and decontamination of people during a radiological event. Laws in 50 states, New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. were reviewed.

View the publication.

Opportunities in Public Health Law

ASTHO is seeking a Senior Analyst of State Health Policy. This position works with the Director of State Health Policy and members to develop the organization’s state public health policy agenda which may include state legislative, statutory, regulatory and executive orders activities, and supports development of ASTHO’s network of state legislative liaisons. M.P.H, M.P.A., M.P.P. or related degree required; J.D. preferred.

View job description and application instructions.

Student Network for Public Health Law

Student Network Mentorship Program

Help build the field of public health law by providing valuable guidance to those new to the field. Student Network Mentors work one-on-one with students to share insights beyond classroom education. Mentors will have the opportunity to work on coaching and leadership skills, gain exposure to the emerging talent pool, and build a lasting career network. Applications for mentors are due August 11.

Learn more and apply to be a mentor.

Student Network Pre-Conference Workshop

The Student Network is holding a pre-conference workshop for students and young professionals in conjunction with the 2014 Public Health Law Conference on October 15 from 12:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. This free workshop will provide attendees a unique opportunity to learn about the field of public health law through a variety of sessions and interactive activities. Attendees will connect with experienced public health law professionals throughout the workshop and during the networking reception immediately following.

Learn more about the pre-conference workshop and sign up.

Join the Network.