HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, October 6, 2014

Health Law Events at AALS 2015

If you are a health law professor attending the January 2015 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, there is robust programming in our area of teaching and scholarship.  There are at least six distinct health law events summarized below. 

In addition, please consider serving as a commentator as part of a new “Works in Progress for New Law Teachers” program by the Section on Law, Medicine and Health Care.  This Saturday evening session is comprised of three separate concurrent roundtables with the junior authors identified below.  If you can participate, please contact chair-elect Thaddeus Pope (

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October 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Published This Week

Thank you to August's and September's Guest Bloggers

HealthLawProf Blog would like to thank our wonderful August and September guest bloggers, Associate Dean and Associate Professor Joanna K. Sax, Visiting Assistant Professor Valerie Gutmann Koch, Assistant Professor Jennifer A. Brobst, Professor Wendy Parmet, Associate Professor Diana R.H. Winters, Assistant Professor Kelly Dineen. Here is a short recap of their posts:


Associate Dean and Associate Professor Joanna K. Sax posted the following: What are GM Foods?, Is Fracking Good or Bad?, The Regulation of Dietary Supplements, and Separating Fact from Fiction.

Visiting Assistant Professor Valerie Gutmann Koch posted the following: FDA Announces Plans to Regulate LDTs (But What About DTC Genetic Tests?), Ventilator Allocation in a Pandemic, How an Obligation to Return Research Results Is (and Should be) Changing the Investigator-Participant Relationship, and Bioethics Fact and Fiction in Lifetime’s The Lottery.


Assistant Professor Jennifer A. Brobst posted the following: The Global Ebola Health Crisis – Counteracting The Western Media’s Privilege And Prejudice In The Classroom, A Lesser Right to Die for Pregnant Women, and Whether The Movement To Criminalize Revenge Porn Will Serve As An Effective Coercive Public Health Strategy.

Professor Wendy Parmet posted the following: Ebola and the Return of Quarantine, Defining Public Health Emergencies, King v. Governor of the State of New Jersey: Applying the First Amendment to Laws Regulating Physician Speech, and Expelling Immigrants from the Exchanges.

Associate Professor Diana R.H. Winters posted the following: Designing policy interventions in the context of obesity—what we can learn from the effects of cigarette taxes on children’s health, Questioning Quorn, and So Much, But Yet Not Enough - The Administration’s Plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistance.

Assistant Professor Kelly Dineen posted the following: Mentally Ill While Black and Pain, Complexity, and Opioids.

October 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Call For Papers: Conflict Management in Healthcare

Touro Law School’s Law Review is currently working on a written symposium issue on the subject of “Conflict Management in Healthcare.” The Law Review is looking to have this published in early 2015.

Manuscripts have already been submitted by academicians and practitioners who work in the area of dispute resolution and, more uniquely, in the prevention of legal conflicts within and between health care entities. Examples include the use of pre-dispute clauses requiring ADR in lieu of litigation, and the prediction and avoidance of the risk of disputes through the construction of agreements and the organic documents of organizations.

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October 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Can't They Read on the Fifth Circuit?

With a highly troublesome reading of the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit managed to uphold a statute that has closed many abortion clinics in Texas, at least for the time being. The statute requires abortion clinics to meet standards for ambulatory surgery clinics, and the costs of doing so are unaffordable for the majority of abortion clinics. According to the New York Times

Thirteen clinics whose facilities do not meet the new standards were to be closed overnight, leaving Texas — a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age, ranking second in the country — with eight abortion providers, all in Houston, Austin and two other metropolitan regions. No abortion facilities will be open west or south of San Antonio.

At issue was whether the statute imposes an "undue burden" on pregnant women seeking an abortion in Texas and is therefore unconstitutional. The district court found an undue burden because some women will have to travel 500 miles to reach an abortion clinic and therefore incur a substantial hardship from the increased time and expense of the travel. The women will have problems with child care, transportation, and getting time off from work.

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October 3, 2014 in Constitutional | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Published This Week

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Guest Blogger Professor Erin Fuse Brown: Surprise! The Doctors at Your In-Network Hospital are Out-of-Network

Fuse BrownNick Bagley has written a great post at the Incidental Economist responding to Elisabeth Rosenthal’s recent article in the NY Times on out-of-network emergency physician billing. This phenomenon arises when a patient goes to an in-network hospital, but the physicians staffing the emergency room are out-of-network. As a result, patients get balance-billed by the out-of-network physicians for large amounts that are not subject to their deductible or out-of-pocket limits. I wanted to pile on to the moral outrage and add some thoughts about legal solutions.


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October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guest Blogger Assistant Professor Kelly Dineen - Pain, Complexity, and Opioids

DineenThis week several groups called for the resignation of FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg in a letter to HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell. Why? Because of the agency’s stance on opioid drugs, as reflected in their statement, “preventing prescription opioid abuse and ensuring that patients have access to appropriate treatments for pain are both top public health priorities for the FDA.” Keep in mind, the agency has not been idle on the issue of preventing untimely deaths related to opioids. For example, hydrocodone products were recently rescheduled from schedule III to schedule II and the Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program was instituted last year. But in the fog of moral panic in response to untimely opioid related deaths, there is little room for moderate stances that factor the wellbeing of all patients in public policy.


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October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guest Blogger Professor Wendy Parmet: Expelling Immigrants from the Exchanges

ParmetThe warning by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week that up to 115,000 people might lose their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unless they can send proof of their citizenship or immigration status was more than a bit ironic. After spending much of the year and millions of dollars trying to boost participation in the exchanges, CMS is now trying to reduce participation. In so doing, it will likely exclude many young, healthy adults, just the type of people that the exchanges need to succeed

The reason for the exclusion lies with the heated politics of immigration, and our ambivalent approach to providing immigrants with health care. Although the ACA’s critics have lambasted the law on many accounts, when the Act was first debated in Congress no charge – not even death panels! -- was made more heatedly or drew more attention than the claim that the Act would cover illegal immigrants. It was that charge, after all, that Representative Joe Wilson referred to when he shouted “You lie!” during the President’s speech to a joint session of Congress.

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October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HHS Issues Guidance Regarding HIPAA and Same Sex Marriage

Under HIPAA, patients' spouses and other family members have certain rights to access health information.  In an important guidance document in the wake of United States v. Windsor, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS has clarified that "spouse" under HIPAA refers to legally married same-sex spouses, even if the individual is receiving services in a jurisdiction not recognizing same-sex marriage.  

This guidance deals with several specific provisions of HIPAA.  First is the definition of "family member" in 45 CFR 160.103, added in the omnibus rule-making for the HITECH Act and GINA.  This definition applies to both the HIPAA security and the HIPAA privacy rules. It provides that relatives by "marriage" are to be treated the same as relatives by consanguinity and that spouses are first-degree relatives.  According to the guidance, "spouse" includes "individuals who are in a legally valid same-sex marriage sanctioned by a state, territory, or foreign jurisdiction (as long as, as to marriages performed in a foreign jurisdiction, a U.S. jurisdiction would also recognize the marriage)."  In addition, "marriage" includes "both same-sex and opposite-sex marriages" and "family member" includes "dependents of those marriages."  These definitions hold whether or not an individual lives in a jurisdiction recognizing same sex marriage and whether or not the individual is receiving health care services in a jurisdiction recognizing same sex marriage.

The second provision treated in the guidance is 45 CFR  §164.510(b), the section of the Privacy Rule governing when individuals must be given an opportunity to agree or object to uses or disclosures of protected health information.  This standard permits disclosure to family members of information directly relevant to the family member's involvement in a patient's care, with certain limitations.  It also permits disclosure of information needed to inform family members of the patient's location, general condition, or death, again with limitations.  If the patient is available and competent, they must agree to or be given an opportunity to object to the disclosure, or the provider must reasonably infer that they do not object.  An example is a family member picking up a prescription for another family member.   

The third provision to which the guidance applies is 45 CFR §164.502(a)(5)(i), the provision that prohibits health plans, other than issuers of long-term care policies, from using or disclosing genetic information for underwriting purposes.  Such plans may not use information about family members' genetic tests or the manifestation of disease in family members to make underwriting decisions.  Here, too, "family member" encompasses same-sex spouses on the same basis as opposite sex spouses.

The HIPAA privacy rule also contains provisions regarding rights of personal representatives.  In general, the structure of the rule is to defer to state law regarding who counts as a patient's personal representative.  Many states have surrogate decision making statutes authorizing a prioritized list of others to make decisions for patients lacking decision making capacity; typical priority lists begin with the holder of the patient's power of attorney for health care, the patient's guardian if any, and then the patient's spouse.  These provisions are a matter of state law, however, and not part of the Privacy Rule itself.  Many states also provide that personal representatives have the same rights as patients themselves with respect to health information, although some states now have advance directive statutes that invite patients to specify rights of their personal representatives to access health information.  The guidance indicates that OCR is planning to issue "further clarification" or a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding same sex spouses as personal representatives.  Stay tuned.


September 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Creighton University School of Law Position Opening - Health Law

CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites applications for a lateral tenured or tenure-track professor in health care law to join our faculty in Fall 2015.  Applicants should have significant academic or practice experience in the business side of health care (e.g., the financing and regulation of health care, including but not limited to the Affordable Care Act).  Creighton University has seven health care schools on its campus, as well as a College of Arts and Sciences and a College of Business, and the Law School is particularly interested in establishing interdisciplinary programs with those schools for non-JD as well as JD students.  Candidates with experience in developing such programs are especially encouraged to apply.  Candidates should have excellent academic credentials and a proven record of (or demonstrated potential for) outstanding classroom teaching and scholarship. 

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September 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Published This Week

Guest Blogger Associate Professor Diana R.H. Winters: So Much, But Yet Not Enough - The Administration’s Plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Winters.pic.bwYesterday was a big day in the fight against antibiotic resistance. The White House released an Executive Order and a National Strategy document on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report on antibiotic resistance, and the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority announced a $20 million prize for developing tests to identify highly resistant infections. Kevin Outterson at The Incidental Economist, Food Safety News, and the New York Times provide a good summary of these developments.

It is clear that the administration recognizes the grave threat posed by antibiotic resistance and that it intends to make combating this danger a national priority. Its approach is broad—the National Strategy includes a “Guiding Principle” that “[d]etecting and controlling antibiotic resistance requires the adoption of a ‘One-Health’ approach to disease surveillance that recognizes that resistance can arise in humans, animals, and the environment,” and the strategy pays much attention to the role of antibiotics in food production. One main objective of the strategy is to eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics at subtherapeutic levels for growth promotion (the practice of feeding animals antibiotics to make them fatter, not to make them well).

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September 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guest Blogger Assistant Professor Jennifer A. Brobst: Whether The Movement To Criminalize Revenge Porn Will Serve As An Effective Coercive Public Health Strategy

BrobstRevenge porn involves the attempt by an offender to harm another person’s reputation and wellbeing through the online posting and distribution of sexually explicit images of that other person without his or her consent. In a 2013 survey, approximately 10% of ex-partners have threatened to post sexually explicit images online, of which 60% have done so. Other research noted by the American Psychological Association, accompanying this survey, has indicated that more men than women currently report being victims of revenge porn, contrary to the public media focus on women as primary victims. 

While existing voyeurism and invasion of privacy charges and causes of action address the taking of such images without a person’s consent, until recently there were civil but not criminal remedies for the distribution of sexual images without consent, such as private images taken together during a relationship or through sexting. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of August 15, 2014, the following states enacted revenge porn criminal statutes in 2013 or 2014: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawai’i, Idaho, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. At least sixteen other states have pending legislation to adopt similar provisions. 

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September 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Papers - University of Richmond Journal of Law & the Public Interest

The University of Richmond Journal of Law & the Public Interest currently has five openings for articles for the two general issues of their volume. As a Journal that centers in large part on the Public Interest, the Journal will be happy to accept and review articles on a broad range of topics that affect citizens on a national level or in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  

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September 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guest Blogger Professor Wendy Parmet - King v. Governor of the State of New Jersey: Applying the First Amendment to Laws Regulating Physician Speech

ParmetLast week’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in King v. Governor of the State of New Jersey, provides an insightful addition to the growing body of case law examining the clash between the state’s power to regulate clinical practice andfree speech.

Although the common law of informed consent arguably implicates the First Amendment rights of physicians and other health professionals, the conflict between the state’s power to regulate health care and free speech has become more apparent in recent years as state legislatures have increasingly enacted laws prescribing what physicians and other clinicians can and cannot say. Such laws are especially common with respect to abortion, but state legislatures have also required physicians to provide specific information about breast cancer treatments, or refrain from asking patients about gun ownership.


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September 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Published This Week

Guest Blogger Associate Professor Diana R.H. Winters: Questioning Quorn

Winters.pic.bwThere was an article a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times about “engineered foods,” and how “a handful of high-tech start-ups are out to revolutionize the food system by engineering ‘meat’ and ‘eggs’ from pulverized plant compounds or cultured snippets of animal tissue.” The author discussed some of the business models, interviewed some of the entrepreneurs, and contemplated some of the implications of “Food 2.0.” The concerns she noted involved the nutritional impact of these foods, and the possibility of resource-intensive production.

But what sort of screening will these food products go through before they enter the food supply? How will FDA vet these new foodstuffs for toxicity or allergenic properties? It won’t. Manufacturers can self-affirm that food products are safe, based on their own studies, and market them on that basis with no prior FDA approval. This is the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) route to marketability. A manufacturer could also choose to submit to the formal food additive approval process, which is extremely time-consuming, but considering the breadth of the GRAS exception, they probably won’t. Many more GRAS notifications are filed per year than food additive petitions.

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September 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Published This Week

Writing Competition: Thomas Jefferson School of Law Jameson Crane III Disability and the Law

Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Announces the First Annual
Jameson Crane III Disability and the Law
Writing Competition


The Crane Writing Competition is designed to encourage outstanding student scholarship at the intersection of law and medicine or law and the social sciences that promotes an understanding, furthers the development of legal rights and protections, and improves the lives of those with disabilities.

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September 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)