HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Age Discrimination and Pension Benefits

The WorkplaceProfBlog updates us on a case involving Age Discrimination and Pension Plans in the upcoming Supreme Court term.  It states,

The Supreme Court . . . granted certiorari in an interesting public pension plan case involving claims of age discrimination.  In Kentucky Retirement v. EEOC, 06-1307:

[the] Petition involves a public employee retirement plan that includes normal and disability retirement benefits. A member who is eligible for normal retirement benefits based on attained age plus a minimum service requirement, or based on service alone, is not eligible for disability retirement benefits. Because age may be a factor in determining eligibility for normal retirement, it is an indirect factor in determining eligibility for disability retirement. Moreover, the calculation of disability retirement benefits is based upon actual years of service plus the number of years remaining before the member reaches retirement age or eligibility based on years of service alone; age may thereby be an indirect factor in determining the amount of disability retirement

The question presented is:

Whether any use of age as a factor in a retirement plan is "arbitrary" and thus renders the plan facially discriminatory in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

October 2, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Upcoming Program at Indiana University

Planning on a visit to Indianapolis this week,  don't miss the interesting and informative symposium being held at the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis this Friday, October 5th.  Entitled, "Wellness and the Law:  State Governments' Role in Addressing America's Public Health Crisis." The program overview provides: 

Across the country, state governments have found themselves faced with difficult decisions regarding proposals for wellness initiatives, health care policy, and laws to encourage healthy living.  In Arkansas, debates have erupted over how to properly and safely monitor a child's progress fighitng obesity; the Governor of Texas has been sued for issuing an exceutive order mandating the HPV vaccination for girls; and Massachusetts has been unable to escape a political quagmire over its decision to institute universal health care.  Here in Indiana, during the 20007 legislative cycle alone, the Indiana General Assembly explored proposals to raise the cigarette tax, ban smoking in car with children, and mandate that young girls receive a vaccine against cervical cancer. 

The day of speakers, discussion, and panels will include:
  • Our alum, Mary Hill, General Counsel and Deputy Commission to the Indiana State Board of Health, will be the luncheon speaker.  Her address, Influencing Health and Wellness: The Power of Public Policy, will touch on, among other things, the role of women in influencing health policy in Indiana and across the nation. 
  • Dr. Frank Chaloupka, Director, University of Illinois at Chicago Health Policy Center, will be addressing the economies of taxing toward health .
  • Dr. Russell Pate, University of South Carolina, addressing policies to promote physical activity and prevent obesity in children .
  • Kevin W. Ryan and Joy Rockenbach, addressing Arkansas’s effort to use body mass index (BMI) as a political tool.
  • Professors David Orentlicher and Eleanor Kinney will join Ellen Whitt, Governor Daniels’ Senior Advisor on Health Promotion and Special Projects for Indiana addressing Indiana’s legislative and policy efforts toward wellness.
  • Samuel Derheimer, presenting his scholarship on the history and politics of compulsory vaccination.
  • Sally Hubbard, presenting her scholarship on states’ efforts to encourage children's wellness through public education.
  • Professor Cynthia Baker will be presenting her paper in progress, Bottom Lines and Waist Lines: State Governments Weigh in on Public Health Issues.

9:00a.m. - 4:00 pm
6.0 Hours of CLE Credit available
5.75 Hours of CME Credit available (see CME specifications)
There is a fee to attend this event. 
Symposium Details:
For more information contact Therese Kamm at (317) 274-8616 or

October 2, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Supreme Court Preview

The Diane Rehm show today will feature  Jeffrey Toobin and Jeffrey Rosen discussing today's opening of the Supreme Court term and what we can expect to see from the Justices.  Here is the overview: 

On the first day of the Supreme Court's 2007/2008 term, two best-selling authors provide a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the inner workings of the Court. They discuss how the personalities and philosophies of the Justices may influence how they rule on such controversial issues as voter identification, lethal injection, the rights of terrorism suspects, and executive power.

October 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Race and Health Care

McClatchy News has a story addressing the potential causes for the differences in infant mortality deaths among various races in the United States.  The article states,

A new series of studies from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies' Health Policy Institute, along with a small but growing number of neonatalogists nationwide, suggests that the stressful effects of racism play a role.

"That's the elephant in the room," said Michael Lu, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the University of California at Los Angeles who studies disparities in infant health. "When we're studying racial disparities, for decades people have looked at stress and infant mortality without looking at the reasons for the stress."

Black infant mortality is a complicated puzzle that includes poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care, teen pregnancy, heredity, high blood pressure, stress, obesity, low birth weights and prematurity. However, some neonatologists and child health advocates have pushed for more research to get behind the social reasons why these factors seem to take a higher toll on African-American infants than they do on other babies.

For the 600 black women in Atlanta who participated in a related study on the effects of racial discrimination on health, the reasons for their higher stress levels ranged from hearing white teachers comment on "those kids" to working extra long hours to win acceptance from white colleagues.  "The pregnancy scares the life out of me because I am pregnant with a baby boy, and I know how black boys are treated in this society," one study participant told researchers from Spelman College and Emory University in Atlanta.

In his research, Lu and his colleagues found that the disproportionately higher number of fast-food restaurants and liquor stores, lower number of grocery stores and the higher cost of fresh produce in many urban, predominately black communities caused poorer pregnant black women to make stressful choices about what to eat and where to live. So did the higher crime rates in these communities and worries about sending children to poorly equipped, understaffed schools.  Lu and other researchers see these factors as part of a trend of racial inequality that's stressful to some poorer black expectant mothers. . . . A PBS documentary, "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick," slated to air next year, explores the disparity in infant mortality and other ways in which racial and social inequality may affect health care.

The entire article provides insight and new understanding to a serious public health issue.

October 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)