HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

House Vote to Repeal Health Care Law Postponed in Wake of Shooting

There has been a delay in the House vote to repeal the health care reform law in the wake of the shooting Jan. 8 that critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). BNA reports that

the House will take up a commemorative resolution Jan. 12 on the House floor honoring Giffords, who is in critical condition at a hospital in Tucson, Ariz., and those who died in the Tucson shooting. A previously scheduled Jan. 12 vote on a bill (H.R. 2) to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul has been postponed, and it is unclear when a vote on the legislation will be held. Several press briefings by lawmakers and stakeholder groups scheduled to be held before the Jan. 12 vote also have been postponed.

The House Jan. 7 voted 236-181 to approve a rule (H. Res. 26) governing debate on the repeal bill. The rule provides for seven hours of debate on the bill and does not allow any amendments. Four Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the rule.The rule was approved after a debate in which Republicans said the health care law is hampering job creation and economic growth and is too costly. Democrats said the law will provide new consumer protections, extend the life of the Medicare Part A trust fund, and provide health care coverage to millions of Americans.


January 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Strategy to Engage the Health Sector in Controlling Adverse effects of Chemicals: Comments Due January 17, 2011

The international community  continues to seek ways to improve the sound management of chemicals in order to protect human health. One of the pressing issues is to effectively engage the health care sector – doctors, caregivers, government health ministries and regulators and similar bodies – in strategies to prevent exposure to dangerous chemicals that can harm humans and the environment. The United Nations agency overseeing this work has issued a draft strategy on ways to engage the health sector, and comments are due January 17, 2011. The Report acknowledges that there have been improvements in chemical management over recent years, but unsound practices remain a major concern. Unintentional poisonings kill an estimated 355,000 people each year, and in developing countries (where most of the deaths occur), the deaths are often caused by excessive exposure to or inappropriate use of toxic chemicals, including pesticides. 


One of the international goals adopted at 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development is to address the effects of chemicals on human health and the environment. The goal, known as the “2020 Goal,” is that “by 2020, chemicals will be produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.” The goal was agreed upon by the international community and was articulated in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

In order to devise plans and take steps to achieve the 2020 Goal, the United Nations established a global policy framework called the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management  (SAICM) and a Directorate within the U.N. Environmental Programme to oversee its implementation. The SAICM contains objectives grouped under five themes: risk reduction, knowledge and information, governance, capacity-building and technical cooperation, and illegal international traffic. There is a good background in the SAICM’s 2008 Bulletin #1.  

The SAICM has issued a report for public comment, which sets out a strategy to engage the health sector in achieving sound chemicals management practices.  The health sector is the part of the economy dealing with health issues, and consists of public and private health care deliverers (medical doctors, nurses, other health professionals), ministries of health and health standard-setting agencies, health agencies such as the World Health Organisation, and similar bodies and associations. Comments on the Provisional Draft Strategy are due on January 17, 2010.

The draft Report identifies many challenges to getting widespread engagement of the health sector in chemical management. An example is the substantial number of chemicals management frameworks and agreements, many implemented on a piecemeal basis, making it difficult to keep abreast of activities. The report calls for actions in six areas: raising awareness, building health sector networks, empowering SAICM focal points, creating healthy health-care settings, strengthening professional training and development, and increasing joint actions between sectors. MM



January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Papers: "The Role of Solidarity in Bioethics"

Guest Editors Patricia Illingworth and Wendy E. Parmet of Bioethics are pleased to announce a special issue in 2012 on the role of solidarity in bioethics. We invite submissions on all aspects of this topic and are particularly interested in papers that explore one or more of the following questions: 

  • Does relying on solidarity as a bioethical norm support universal access to health care or does it limit access to discrete, identifiable groups?
  • Is the human right to health, as enunciated in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, dependent upon or challenged by norms of solidarity?
  • Does solidarity support or undermine cosmopolitan duties to health?
  • Do medical enhancement technologies threaten solidarity locally, domestically, or internationally?
  • What are the implications of using a norm of solidarity for the health of immigrants, migrants, and displaced persons?
  • What are the implications of globalization and migration for the maintenance of solidarity as a foundation for the provision of health care?
  • Does a robust notion of solidarity imply a sacrifice of autonomy in relation to health decision-making (e.g. with respect to vaccine mandates, confidentiality, reproductive rights, organ donation, bone marrow transplants)?
  • Is solidarity a social determinant of health?
  • What are the implications of a market-based health insurance system for solidarity?
  • Does solidarity favor a population-based perspective on health and bioethics as opposed to a medical or clinical perspective?
  • What are the distributive implications of solidarity as a bioethical norm?
  • Does international law support global solidarity with respect to health?
  • How can the structure of international health governance be used to promote global solidarity with respect to health?
  • What is the nature and basis of the norm of solidarity with respect to health?

The editors welcome early discussion of brief proposals and/or abstracts by e-mail to both: Patricia Illingworth  and/or Wendy Parmet For submission requirements, format and referencing style, refer to the Author Guidelines on the Bioethics website: Please note that we discourage papers of more than 5000 words and the submission deadline is September 1, 2011. Manuscripts should be submitted online at: Please ensure that you select manuscript type 'Special Issue' and state that it is for the “Solidarity”, Special Issue when prompted.

January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Health Spending Grew At An Historically Low Rate In 2009

According to Health Affairs, health spending grew at an historically low rate In 2009:

During 2009, a year of deep recession followed by slow economic growth, national health care spending rose at its lowest rate in five decades, federal analysts report.

Health spending rose only 4.0 percent in 2009 to $2.5 trillion, or $8,086 per person. That pace was slower than the 4.7 percent growth rate in 2008, say the analysts from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary in their annual report on national health spending.

Despite the slowdown, health spending growth still outpaced the growth rate of the overall economy. As a result, health spending grew to 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product in 2009, a full percentage point higher than the 16.6 percent in 2008, marking the largest one-year increase in the history of the National Health Expenditure Accounts (1960-2009).

January 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)