HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Earthquake: How To Help

The Washington Post has created a fairly comprehensive list of the organizations involved in the Haiti relief effort. Here is the list:  

Oxfam has an emergency team in the capital, Port-au-Prince, responding with public health, water, and sanitation services. You can donate online through its Haiti Earthquake Response Fund or by calling 1-800-77-OXFAM.

Partners In Health is taking contributions for relief efforts in Haiti, including medical supplies. The organization has had a presence in Haiti for more than 20 years, working to address the health care needs of the country's poor.

You can donate to The Salvation Army's efforts in Haiti by calling 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769) or visiting their Web site and designating that your donation is for the Haiti earthquake.

The UN World Food Programme is accepting donations. Head of the WFP Josette Sheeran said the agency is deploying its resources in Haiti, including 86 metric tons of food. You can donate here.

National Nurses United has issued a call for nurse volunteers to provide assistance to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

To donate to specific relief efforts in Haiti:
United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
Mercy Corps
Save the Children
International Red Cross
World Vision
Catholic Relief Services
International Medical Corps
Network for Good
Operation USA
Operation Blessing International
Convoy of Hope
The Global Syndicate
Beyond Borders
Community Coalition for Haiti
International Orthodox Christian Charities
Baptist World Aid
Doctors Without Borders
Habitat for Humanity
Action Against Hunger
Direct Relief International
B'nai B'rith International
Bright Hope
Hope for Haiti
American Jewish World Service
World Relief
American Friends Service Committee
Food for the Poor
CHF International
The Lambi Fund of Haiti
Islamic Relief USA
United Way Worldwide
International Organization for Migration
Food for the Hungry

The State Department has set up a hotline for Americans to inquire after family in Haiti: 888-407-4747.

There are several ways to donate via mobile device:

• Text the word "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 on behalf of the Yele Haiti Foundation, founded by Haitian musician Wyclef Jean.

• Text the word "Haiti" to 85944 to donate $5 on behalf of the Rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International.

• Text the word "Haiti" to 25383 to donate $5 on behalf of the Internal Rescue Committee.

• Text the word "Haiti" to 864833 to donate $5 to United Way Worldwide's disaster fund.

• Text the word "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the American Red Cross.

• Text the word "Haiti" to 45678 (in Canada only) on behalf of the Salvation Army in Canada.

You can also find updated information and general ways to help during disasters at ReliefWeb, USAID and InterAction.

The FBI also warns donors to be alert to the potential for scams involving the earthquake. After a tsunami devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, many people lost money by donating to relief organizations that turned out to be fraudulent. The FBI offers several tips here.

January 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Evidence that Bisphenol A (BPA) is Linked to Cardiovascular Disease in Adults

A new study confirms previous findings that Bisphenol A (BPA, a chemical used in plastic containers) exposure is linked to cardiovascular disease. The study, Association of Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration with Heart Disease: Evidence from NHANES 2003/06, was performed by the same team that originally identified the link in 2008. As reported in ScienceDaily

In 2008 the team believed that higher urinary BPA concentrations might be associated with adverse health effects in adults, especially in relation to liver function, insulin, diabetes and obesity. By using data from the US government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2004-2004, which for the first time measured urinary BPA concentrations, the research team found that a quarter of the population with the highest levels of BPA were more than twice as likely to report having heart disease or diabetes, compared to the quarter with the lowest BPA levels. They also found that higher BPA levels were associated with clinically abnormal liver enzyme concentrations.

The new study uses data from NHANES 2006-2006 US population study... Professor David Melzer, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Peninsula Medical School (Exeter, UK), who led the team, commented: "This is only the second analysis of BPA in a large human population sample. It has allowed us to largely confirm our original analysis and exclude the possibility that our original findings were a statistical 'blip'"

BPA is a controversial chemical commonly used in food and drink containers. It has previously caused concerns over health risks to babies, as it is present in some baby's bottles. Several nations have moved to ban BPA from the manufacture of baby's bottles and other feeding equipment.

BPA is used in polycarbonate plastic products such as refillable drinks containers, some plastic eating utensils and many other products in everyday use. It is one of the world's highest production volume chemicals, with over 2.2 million tonnes (6.4 billion pounds) produced annually, and it is detectable in the bodies of more than 90% of the population.

January 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Health Care Fraud Becomes the Newest Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

What is the newest multi-billion dollar industry? The answer is health care fraud with up to 100 billion dollars a year for scammers and organized crime gangs. CNNMoney reports that, in recent months, health care identity theft has topped the list of crimes. Identity theft in the health care context involves a con in which criminals tap real patient information to rack up fake charges.

The most common method of health care identity fraud occurs when someone with legitimate access, such as a hospital administrator or a doctor's assistant, sells patients' information to organized criminal groups according to Louis Saccoccio, executive director of the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA). The NHCAA is an advocacy group whose members include insurers, law enforcement and regulatory agencies. 

Increasingly, criminal groups are hacking into digital medical records so that they can steal money from the $450 billion, 44-million-beneficiary Medicare system -- making the government, by far, the "single biggest victim" of health care fraud, according to Rob Montemorra, chief of the FBI's Health Care Fraud Unit.

All the stolen information includes medical insurance data and Social Security numbers, explained James Van Dyke, president of Javelin Strategy & Research, a research firm specializing in trends in security and fraud initiatives. Van Dyke said that, with the information, the fraudster falsely bills Medicare and private insurers for drugs, equipment or treatment that were never prescribed.

With medical equipment, for example, fraudsters might order a wheelchair for someone who doesn't need it and bill Medicare for two or three times the cost, pocketing the money. For home health care, criminals profit by the false billing of insurers for care of people who never asked for it.

On a smaller scale, criminals also sell medical information in some communities to uninsured people who are desperate to get medical care. To collect the money, the criminals set up shell billing companies that disappear as soon as there's any indication of an investigation, according to the FBI.

January 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Jersey Lawmakers Pass Medical Marijuana Bill

The New Jersey Legislature approved a measure on Monday that would make the state the first in the region and the 14th in the nation to legalize the use of marijuana for medical reasons according to the The New York Times.

The measure, passed on the final day of the legislative session, will allow patients diagnosed with severe illnesses like cancer, AIDS, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis to have access to marijuana distributed through state-monitored dispensaries. Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he would sign it into law before leaving office next Tuesday.

For those who want to do further reading, The New York Times has a web page devoted to stories about issues involving marijuana and medical marijuana as part of its Times Topics series. 

January 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Call for Articles

The West Virginia Law Review announces a call for articles and invites scholars, practitioners and researchers to submit contributions for its upcoming issue focusing on health care. This issue will include articles from the Law Review’s Lecture Series, “Beyond Politics: A Discussion of Health Care in America,” a thoughtful discourse on the social disparities in access and outcomes engrained in our current health care system. For this issue, we are particularly interested in scholarship discussing the following topics:

• Health care reform;
• Health care access and outcome disparities, especially as they affect women and children, racial minorities, and the rural poor; and,
• Health care as a human right.

Articles will be selected by our Articles Selection Team and the Editor-in-Chief based on scholarly merit, originality, relevancy and writing style. Articles should be thoroughly researched and contain appropriate footnotes in bluebook format. Please submit articles electronically to by June 30, 2010. Any questions regarding the call for articles or article submissions generally should be sent to

January 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Access to Assisted Living Facilities Limited for Low Income, Minorities and People Living in Rural Communities

A new Harvard study shows that assisted living facilities are disproportionately located in areas where people have higher levels of income and education and where home values are higher. The first nationwide county-level analysis of supportive housing was published January 5 in the journal Health Affairs. According to this study, low-income people, minorities, and people living in rural areas have relatively little access to this housing and long-term care option.

January 10, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)