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February 2012 - CDC Public Health Law News

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

From the Public Health Law Program,
Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Director's Note

Hello! We’re currently redesigning the Public Health Law Program (PHLP) website, and some of our publications will not be available on the website during this time. In an effort to improve the function of the site and accessibility for people with disabilities, we’ll ensure all our publications are in compliance with Section 508 before they are posted again. In the meantime, if you need a specific publication, please contact PHLP. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thanks again for your interest in our work and the Public Health Law News.

Matthew S. Penn, Director
Public Health Law Program


  1. Workshop on STD Prevention Strategies. The Division of STD Prevention and the Public Health Law Program are hosting a workshop, “Expedited Partner Therapy - Strategies to Address Common Barriers to Implementation” before the National STD Prevention Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The workshop will be held on March 12, 2012 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at the Conference location (Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis, MN). Find more information and a description of the workshop.
  2. Weight of the Nation Conference. On May 7-9, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity will host the Weight of the NationTM, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference is designed to provide a forum to highlight progress in obesity prevention and control through policy and environmental strategies, framed around five intervention settings: early care and education; states, tribes and communities; medical care; schools; and workplaces. The conference will feature a number of public health law-related sessions, as well as a practitioner training on public health law and policy. Find more information about the Weight of the Nation™ conference and registration.
  3. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. On January 31, 2012 President Obama released a Presidential Proclamation February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, 2012. The President’s Proclamation calls on “all Americans to support efforts in their communities and schools, and in their own families, to empower young people to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives and to engage in activities that prevent and respond to teen dating violence. Find more information about the Presidential Proclamation and statistics about youth and dating violence.
  4. Public Health Law Conference. Save the date for the 2012 Public Health Law Conference: Practical Approaches to Critical Challenges. The conference is sponsored by the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics (ASLME) and the Network for Public Health Law and will take place October 10-12 in Atlanta, Georgia. Find more Public Health Law Conference information and register.
  5. J.D./M.P.H. Survey. To help build the field of public health law, the Network for Public Health Law is collecting data to investigate the professional impact of earning both a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and a Masters in Public Health (M.P.H.). If you have both degrees (or a J.D. and another degree similar to an M.P.A.), please help by taking the J.D./M.P.H. survey.
  6. Call for Proposals. Public Health Law Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has released its fourth call for proposals on studies that focus on the effect of laws and policies on public health. The deadline for submitting brief proposals is April 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm EST. Find more proposal information.
  7. Call for grant proposals. The U.S. Department of Justice is soliciting grant proposals for funding to support improvements to public safety, victim services and crime prevention in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. All materials are now accessible for review. Electronic grant applications must be submitted to Community Partnerships Grants Management System by 9:00 p.m. EST on April 18, 2012. Find more information on this grant proposal.
  8. Local wellness policies in six U.S. school districts. The Journal of School Health has published an article, “Results of Evaluability Assessments of Local Wellness Policies in Six U.S. School Districts,” by Seraphim Pitt Barnes and others (originally published August 1, 2011). The Article describes Local Wellness Policies, how the policies have been implemented and evaluated by six U.S. school districts.

Top Stories

  1. Texas: Texas Readies a new weapon against ‘doctor shopping’ for prescription drugs
    American-Statesman (02/02/2012) Laylan Copelin

    After years of collecting Texas citizens’ prescription histories, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) plans to make the data available online so doctors, pharmacists, and law enforcement officials may easily identify patients who are abusing pain medications.

    In 2011 the Texas Legislature passed a law making ‘doctor shopping’ a felony. In 2012 the Legislature will consider requiring doctors to check the state prescription database before even writing a prescription.

    Many Texas lawmakers feel the laws are necessary to curb the growing problem. “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in our state and the nation . . . A lot of folks think, ‘I’m not a drug abuser because I got this [the prescription drugs] from a pharmacy,’” said Texas Senator Tommy Williams.

    While there appears to be broad agreement that there is a prescription drug abuse problem, some are yet concerned about what effect the state’s efforts will have on the doctor-patient relationship and confidentiality. “How it is implemented will have a lot to do with the impact on privacy concerns.” Said Lisa Graybill, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

    DPS has indicated that the prescription records are protected by the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Patient information is currently protected because access to the database is limited to drug investigation officers.

  2. National: High court turns aside recusal request on health care challenge
    CNN (01/23/2012) Bill Mears

    Justice Elena Kagan Served as Solicitor General before beginning her tenure as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Political advocacy group Freedom Watch petitioned SCOTUS to recuse Justice Kagan from hearing oral arguments in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March, 2012 because of her former position as Solicitor General. The Court’s subsequent ruling indicated Justice Kagan will be among those hearing the case and will not be recused.

    Several other organizations have requested her recusal as well as Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

    “The Justices work for us, and the Supreme Court is the people’s court, not the justices’ court. I hope they will sober up and do the right thing and disqualify Justice Kagan from sitting on the Obamacare case, as she has a textbook conflict of interest given her involvement in the drafting of, and supporting, the legislation, while she was an official of the Obama administration at the Department of Justice,” said Larry Klayman, head of Freedom Watch.

    When the ACA came up during Kagan’s Senate confirmation hearings she said she sat in “at least one meeting where the existence of the litigation was briefly mentioned, but none where any substantive discussion of the litigation occurred.”

    The Supreme Court makes autonomous decisions regarding whether its justices should be disqualified because of conflicts of interest and does not usually discuss such discussions publicly. Justice Kagan has recused herself from considering at least 28 other cases accepted by the Supreme Court.

  3. National: School lunch nutrition standards upgrade
    AZ Journal (02/01/2012) Teri Walker

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released new school lunch standards on January 26, 2012. The new standards, taking effect July 1, 2012, require schools to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk and whole grains in their lunch menus. Schools must also reduce sodium, saturated and trans fat content in meals, keeping the meals within specific caloric guidelines.
    A broad variety of interest groups and organizations commented on the proposed guidelines, including food service management companies, the food industries, school food authorities and nutrition, and health and child health advocates.

    Many of those who made comments are dissatisfied with the final guidelines, feeling the limits are either too stringent or not stringent enough.

    The USDA officials said the administration “has taken into consideration the different views expressed by commenters and seeks to be responsive to the concerns raised by stakeholders, especially those responsible for the management and day-to-day operation of the school meal programs. At the same time we are mindful that the overweight and obesity epidemic affecting many children in America requires that all sectors of our society, including schools, help children make significant changes in their diet to improve their overall health and become productive adults.”

    (Editor’s note: Find more information about the Nutrition Standards for School Meals.)

Briefly Noted

  1. Hawaii: Only state without ‘Move Over’ bill moves law to fast lane
    ‘Move Over’ bill urges Hawaii drivers to exercise caution when approaching emergency vehicles
    Republic (01/30/2012)
  2. Indiana: New law plays offense against trafficking in anticipation of Super Bowl
    Super Bowl prompts Indiana to rewrite human trafficking law
    Stateline (02/01/2012) Maggie Clark
  3. Kentucky: Adult abuse registry would help employers screen for abusers
    House Panel backs adult abuse registry
    Courier-Journal (01/26/2012)
  4. Missouri: Mo. AG files suit against contractor obligated to repair tornado damage
    Law suit accuses contractor of cheating tornado victims
    Joplin Globe (02/02/2012) Kelsey Ryan
    (Editor’s note: Find more information about severe weather preparedness)
  5. National: U.S. Chamber of Commerce enters cigarette warnings battle
    Chamber of Commerce speaks out against the government’s plan for graphic cigarette labels
    Star Tribune (01/31/2012)
  6. International: FDA approves circumcision device, HIV prevention
    AIDS prevention inspires ways to make circumcisions easier
    New York Times (01/30/2012) Donald G. McNeil, Jr.

Court Opinions

  1. California: Litigation privilege applies to doctor’s conduct completing form
    Cang Wang v. Heck
    Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Four
    Case No. B228191
    Decided January 25, 2012
    Opinion by Justice Thomas L. Willhite, Jr.
  2. Federal: ADA claim denied because service dog not trained or vaccinated
    Davis v. Dale MA
    United States District Court, Central District of California
    Case No. EDCV 10-1483, VAP(DTBx)
    Decided January 24, 2012
    Opinion by Judge Virginia A. Philips
  3. Federal: Ordinance on minimum limo laws unrelated to public health/safety
    Bokhari v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County
    United States District Court of Tennessee, Middle District Tennessee, Nashville Division
    Case No. 3:11-00088
    Decided on January 19, 2012
    Memorandum by Judge Kevin H. Sharp
  4. Federal: Defective AED suit’s claims not parallel to Federal law but preempted
    Walker v. Medtronic, Incorporated
    United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
    Case No. 10-2219
    Decided January 25, 2012
    Opinion by Judge Allyson K. Duncan

About Public Health Law News

The CDC Public Health Law News is published the third Thursday of each month except holidays, plus special issues when warranted. It is distributed only in electronic form and is free of charge.

The News is published by the Public Health Law Program, Office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Lindsay Culp, J.D., M.P.H., Editor; Abigail Ferrell, J.D., M.P.A., Writer.


News content is selected solely on the basis of newsworthiness and potential interest to readers. CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) assume no responsibility for the factual accuracy of the items presented from other sources. The selection, omission, or content of items does not imply any endorsement or other position taken by CDC or DHHS. Opinions expressed by the original authors of items included in the News, or persons quoted therein, are strictly their own and are in no way meant to represent the opinion or views of CDC or DHHS. References to products, trade names, publications, news sources, and non-CDC Websites are provided solely for informational purposes and do not imply endorsement by CDC or DHHS. Legal cases are presented for educational purposes only, and are not meant to represent the current state of the law. The findings and conclusions reported in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of CDC or DHHS. The News is in the public domain and may be freely forwarded and reproduced without permission. The original news sources and the CDC Public Health Law News should be cited as sources. Readers should contact the cited news sources for the full text of the articles.


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