Public Health Law News

October 2023


Applications Open | Center for Preparedness and Response’s Board of Scientific Counselors
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking nominations for membership on the Center for Preparedness and Response’s Board of Scientific Counselors. The board consists of 11 experts in fields associated with business, crisis leadership, emergency response and management, informatics, laboratory science, medicine, mental and behavioral health, public health law, public health practice, risk communication, and social science. The deadline for submission is October 31. Learn more and apply.

Registration Open | APHA 2023
APHA 2023 will be held November 12–15 in Atlanta, with a digital meeting November 9–15. Attendees will learn from leading experts, build leadership skills and knowledge, and connect with peers from around the globe. Late registration runs through November 11. Learn more and register.

Registration Open | 2024 Preparedness Summit
The 2024 Preparedness Summit will be held March 25–28 in Cleveland, Ohio. The theme of the summit is “Public Health, Healthcare, and Emergency Management: Aligning to Address Cascading Challenges.” The summit aims to bring together attendees from all areas of practice including emergency management, academia, and government at the federal, state, and local levels. Learn more and register.

Call for Abstracts | 2024 Public Health Law Practitioners Convening
The committee for the 2024 Public Health Law Practitioners Convening is seeking abstract proposals about how law and policy can be used to support public health practice. The Convening invites policy professionals, students, and practitioners to share insights and strategies with colleagues in the field. Topics for submissions include legal preparedness, workforce development, and the role of policy in addressing health equity, among many others. The abstract submission period will close November 3. Learn more and submit an abstract.

Tribal Announcements

Research Blog | Urban American Indian Undercount in the 2020 Census
After results for the 2020 Decennial Census were announced by the Census Bureau, several publications reported an undercount for the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) population living on reservation. The National Council of Urban Indian Health has compiled research on an additional undercount of the off-reservation AI/AN population, including urban AI/AN people, which did not receive the same coverage. There have been concerns in recent decades regarding growing inaccuracies in the US Decennial Census, particularly affecting marginalized communities. Failure by some institutions to report on the undercount of the urban AI/AN population contributes to the existing research gap and may impact federal health policy relating to this population. Learn more and access the research.

Resource | Tribal Pandemic Plan Checklist 
The American Indian Health Commission (AIHC) has prepared a checklist for tribes and urban Indian health programs (UIHPs) that are developing or updating their comprehensive emergency response plans or hazard specific plan annexes. Tribes and UIHPs can select which items they wish to incorporate into their action plan, comprehensive emergency plans, or other policies and procedures. This checklist is based on tribes and UIHPs in Washington reporting their best practices for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to AIHC. AIHC will continue to update this document as they collect more tribal input. Learn more and access the resource.

Job Announcements

Legal Epidemiology Researcher/Data Scientist | University of Missouri
The University of Missouri, Columbia, is seeking candidates to provide legal epidemiology research, database management, and authorship of resulting academic research papers. This position will report directly to Professor Michael Pesko, Department of Economics, whose research focuses on health policy. This is a full-time, permanent position and remote work is possible. Learn more and apply.

Western Region Director | Network for Public Health Law
The Network for Public Health Law is seeking a region director to provide strategic and organizational leadership for the Network’s Western Region team. This role is responsible for overseeing the region’s strategic and sustainability planning, day-to-day operations, legal technical assistance, outreach efforts, and product development activities. The Western Region Director reports to the Network Executive Director and supervises two or more attorneys and one project coordinator. This position is fully remote. Learn more and apply.

State Advocacy Manager | Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation
The Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation is seeking a state advocacy manager to join its Hospital Equity and Accountability Project (HEAP). The HEAP team is working to strengthen requirements and accountability for hospitals and health systems to address the needs of the communities they serve and advance health equity, and apply a race equity analysis, while building the power of communities. Learn more and apply.

Public Health Advisor | CDC
CDC is seeking candidates for a program deputy director/special advisor. The deputy director will lead the development and formulation of new programs and initiatives that are in accord with CDC public health program goals, objectives, and policies. They will manage and analyze in-country needs and opportunities against CDC program strategic objectives and advise on how best to deliver in-country public health services that reflect international standards and host country policies and regulations. This application closes on October 31. Learn more and apply.

Injury Prevention Specialist | Indian Health Services
This position serves as the injury prevention specialist for the Great Plains Area Indian Health Service, Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS). In consultation with the director of the DEHS program, the incumbent will plan, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive Area Injury Prevention program. Incumbent will work toward DEHS program goals and objectives as established through consultation with the DEHS Director and the annual DEHS Performance Improvement Indicator process. Learn more and apply.

Legal Tools & Trainings

Resource | A Narrative Review of Literature Examining Studies Researching the Impact of Law on Health and Economic Outcomes
In this review, the authors examine how legal epidemiological research methods have been described in the literature as well as trends among the studies. Overall, three major themes emerged from this study: (1) limited variability in the sources of the health data across the studies, (2) limited differences in the methodological approaches used to connect law to health outcomes, and (3) lack of transparency surrounding the source and quality of the legal data relied upon. Learn more and access the resource.

Resource | Advancing Racial Equity in Rural Communities
ChangeLab Solutions recently published a strategy brief that aims to deepen understanding among state and local policymakers seeking to address the systemic and structural barriers that perpetuate inequities in rural communities. Developed in partnership with The Praxis Project, this brief intends to support changemakers in exploring strategies to advance equity, opportunity, and health for rural residents. Learn more and access the resource.

Resource | Center for Global Health Policy & Politics
Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and the School of Health has announced the new Center for Global Health Policy & Politics. The Center—a UNAIDS-designated Collaborating Center—works at the intersection of global health, law, and political science. Through policy research, political analysis, and strategic convening, the Center explores and addresses the political determinants of health and supports the creation of legal and policy environments that help stop pandemics, expand equity in access to medical technologies, tackle inequalities in health, and save lives. Learn more about the center.

Top Story

Pennsylvania: OAG [Office of Attorney General] deputies to Pa. lawmakers: Antitrust law would strengthen hospital merger oversight
The Daily Item (10/05/2023) Eric Scicchitano

 Story Highlights
Chief deputies of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General called for stronger oversight of hospital mergers and acquisitions in Pennsylvania, which currently is the only state without an antitrust law. Notably, in the last five years, 14 of 15 hospital closures across the state were preceded by a change in ownership, merger, or acquisition.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can lead to issues with patient access and health coverage. As local hospitals close or the network’s health system shifts, patients may be required to drive significant distances to the closest in-network hospital, especially in rural areas. The Office of Attorney General works to ensure the public interest is fully protected when reviewing deals that could negatively impact accessibility and coverage.

M&A also leads to a decrease in competition or market consolidation. Dr. Rachel Werner of the University of Pennsylvania cites research that demonstrates that patients have higher mortality rates, readmission rates, and poor patient experience in markets with little competition. Dr. Werner also notes that merged entities absorb market power, resulting in an average of 20% to 30% increases in cost, which often impacts patients.

The acquisition of Geisinger, a Pennsylvania regional health system, by California-based Kaiser Permanente is still pending federal regulatory approval. Although these two entities are headquartered on different coasts, this cross-market consolidation deal aims to bring Geisinger under the Kaiser umbrella. Dr. Werner noted that such situations can yield decreased competition, increased prices, and increased bargaining power with insurers. She argues that to affect prices, it would be more effective to limit insurers’ anti-competitive practices.

 [Editor’s note: Learn more about the role of federal and state antitrust agencies in challenging anticompetitive healthcare practices.]

Briefly Noted

National: CDC is no longer distributing Covid-19 vaccination cards, once a staple of the pandemic
CNN (10/03/2023) Amanda Musa
[Editor’s note: Learn more about current COVID-19 vaccine considerations.]

National: State policies on cigarettes, seatbelts, shortened life spans
The Washington Post (10/03/2023) Lauren Weber, Dan Diamond, and Dan Keating
[Editor’s note: Learn more about how social determinants impact health.]

Alaska: Physician assistants say proposed rules could spell disaster for rural Alaska health care
Alaska Public Media (09/27/2023) Rachel Cassandra
[Editor’s note: Learn more about the scope of practice for physician assistants.]

Arizona: ‘It’s not like caregiving’: Intensive mobile mental health teams are expanding in Arizona
Arizona Republic (10/03/2023) Stephanie Innes
[Editor’s note: Learn more about taking care of your mental health.]

California: Newsom signs modified ‘Skittles ban’ law
East Bay Times (10/09/2023) John Woolfolk
[Editor’s note: Learn more about health concerns from food additives.]

Illinois: Demand on limited resources mounts in Chicago’s migrant crisis
The Center Square (10/02/2023) Andrew Hensel
[Editor’s note: Learn more about immigrant and refugee health.]

Indiana: Indiana health commissioner wants locals to direct flow of new state public health funding
The Times of Northwest Indiana (10/05/2023) Dan Carden
[Editor’s note: Learn more about essential public health services.]

New Jersey: NJ’s anti-bullying law needs work, frustrated parents tell task force. ‘We must do better.’
NJ Advance Media (10/05/2023) Jackie Roman
[Editor’s note: Learn more about how to prevent bullying.]

Oregon: Portlanders experiencing homelessness sue city over camping ban
The Oregonian/Oregon Live (09/29/2023) Nicole Hayden
[Editor’s note: Learn more about who experiences homelessness.]

Tennessee: Violence being treated as a public health threat by Metro Health Department
WSMV (09/18/2023) Brendan Tierney
[Editor’s note: Learn more about community violence prevention strategies.]

Washington: Seattle City Council passes law to prosecute drug use, possession
Crosscut (09/19/2023) Josh Cohen
[Editor’s note: Learn more about drugs and addiction.]

Global Public Health Law News

Canada: B.C. to pass law halting public illicit drug use in many places
Dirk Meissner (10/06/2023) National Observer
[Editor’s note: Learn more about substance use and treatment access in the US.]

India: Possession of e-cigarettes violation of law: Health Ministry
Deccan Herald (10/02/2023)
[Editor’s note: Learn more about electronic cigarettes.]

Morocco: Mental health needs a priority after Moroccan earthquake
Médecins Sans Frontières (10/02/2023)
[Editor’s note: Learn more about coping with a disaster or traumatic event.]

Tanzania: Mwinyi: UHC [Universal Health Coverage] key to provision of quality health services
Daily News (10/04/2023) Bernard Lugongo
[Editor’s note: Learn more about universal health coverage.]

Court Filings & Opinions

United States District Court, C.D. of Illinois, Rock Island Division, granted plaintiff People of the State of Illinois, ex. Rel. Kwame Raoul, Attorney General of the State of Illinois’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion to Remand, sending the lawsuit back to circuit court.

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in March 2022 against 3M Company (“3M”) claiming that 3M improperly disposed of PFAS and/or PFAS-containing products, resulting in PFAS being released into the Illinois environment. Plaintiff claimed 3M operated its facilities negligently which “allowed the discharge, emission, placement, disposal, leakage, spillage, and/or abandonment of PFAS” knowing the toxicity and risks associated with improper PFAS disposal. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that 3M violated the Illinois Protection Act, the Illinois Fish and Aquatic Life Code, and the Wildlife Code. 3M removed this action to federal court with basis for federal jurisdiction under the federal officer removal statute. 3M argued that it intended to use the federal government contractor defense, as it developed and sold the PFAS-containing MilSpec AFFF (aqueous film-forming foams) to the US Military. These foams were stored and used at the Rock Island Arsenal, and thus some of the alleged contamination may be overlapping with federal use. Plaintiff moved to remand this action, stating that it only sought to hold 3M liable from 3M PFAS discharged specifically from the 3M facility in Cordova.

Removal under the federal officer removal statute requires a showing that the defendant was “(1) ‘person’ (2) ‘acting under’ the United States, its agencies, or its officers (3) that has been sued ‘for or relating to any act under color of such office,’ and (4) has a colorable federal defense to the plaintiff’s claim.” The court found that 3M satisfied element (1) a person; element (2) “acting under”; and element (4) a colorable federal defense. However, the court found that 3M did not meet element (3), holding that any PFAS produced as a federal contractor would already be excluded from this action, thus the connection necessary to meet this requirement is missing and the removal statute fails. Thus, Plaintiff’s motion was granted and remanded to circuit court.

People of the State of Illinois, ex. Rel. Kwame Raoul, Attorney General of the State of Illinois, v. 3M Company
United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
No. 4:22-cv-04075-SLD-JEH
Decided September 21, 2023
Opinion by Chief District Judge Sara Darrow

New York:
The Supreme Court of Kings County granted Defendant “Rego Park’s” motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff “Mitchell” with prejudice, finding that Mitchell failed to “raise an issue of fact to withstand Rego Park’s prima facie entitlement to summary judgment.”

Mitchell initiated this action against Rego Park in 2015, alleging negligence against the named hospitals and nursing homes, claiming improper care for Decedent Steven Mitchell’s pressure injuries and failure to prevent development of new pressure injuries. Rego Park moved for summary judgement, which is at issue in this case. In considering whether to grant summary judgment in favor of Rego Park, the court considered the testimony of each side’s expert witness. The court found that Rego Park’s expert witness, Nurse Cross, was qualified in her testimony due to her background as a wound and ostomy nurse practitioner for more than 10 years. In contrast, the court found Mitchell’s expert witness on the subject insufficient to testify, as Dr. Goldenberg was outside of his practice area speaking to the pressure wounds and failed to “lay a foundation to support the reliability of her opinion regarding the standard of care in skilled nursing facilities or on the evaluation and management of pressure ulcers.”

The court also found that even if Mitchell’s expert witness were considered qualified, Mitchell still fails to establish the existence of any issue of triable fact that could withstand summary judgment. The court found that Dr. Goldenberg “relie[d] on facts outside of the record, feign[ed] the existence of disputed facts, reache[d] untenable and perplexing conclusions, and incorrectly applie[d] inapplicable regulations.” Dr. Goldenberg did not identify any of Steven Mitchell’s wounds that developed or worsened under Rego Park’s care, and thus failed to demonstrate that Rego Park was the proximate cause of any of Steven Mitchell’s injuries. Thus, the Court granted Rego Park’s summary judgement against Mitchell and dismissed all the claims with prejudice, directing the Clerk to enter judgment in Rego Park’s favor.

Carolyn Mitchell as Administrator of the Estate of Steven Mitchell (Deceased) v. Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center D/b/a Kingsbrook Rehabilitation Institute
Supreme Court, Kings County
Index No. 508911/2015
Decided September 25, 2023
Opinion by Judge Mallafre Melendez

COVID-19 Court Filings & Opinions

“This appeal presents the latest in a series of disputes over whether cases alleging that medical facilities negligently responded to the COVID-19 pandemic will be heard in state or federal court. Vanessa Sherod brought a lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court against Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services, LLC, several affiliated entities, and several executives (collectively, “Comprehensive Healthcare”) alleging that her mother Elizabeth Wiles contracted COVID-19 and passed away because Comprehensive Healthcare negligently managed a COVID-19 outbreak in the nursing home where Wiles worked. Comprehensive Healthcare removed the case to federal court, but the District Court granted Sherod’s motion to remand, holding that there was no basis for federal jurisdiction over Sherod’s claims. Because we reached the same conclusion when presented with very similar facts and arguments in our recent decision in Maglioli v. Alliance HC Holdings LLC, 16 F.4th 393 (3d Cir. 2021), we will affirm.”

Vanessa Sherod, as Administrator of the Estate of Elizabeth Wiles, and in her Own Right v. Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services, LLC, d/b/a Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center
United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
No. 20-3287
Filed September 27, 2023
Opinion by Chief Judge Michael A. Chahares

Quote of the Month

“We need a stronger public interest review process to look at those things and allow local communities to have input in the future of care in their area,” Keenan [of the Pennsylvania Health Care Access Network] said.

[Editor’s note: This quote is from the above article, OAG deputies to Pa. lawmakers: Antitrust law would strengthen hospital merger oversight, Eric Scicchitano, The Daily Item (10/05/2023).]

CDC’s Public Health Law Program (PHLP) works to improve the health of the public by performing research, creating tools, and providing training to help practitioners understand and make law and policy decisions. Every month, PHLP publishes the Public Health Law News with announcements, legal tools, court opinions, job openings & more.


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Public Health Law News (the News) content is selected solely on the basis of newsworthiness and potential interest to readers. CDC and HHS 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 HHS. Opinions expressed by the original authors of items included in the News, persons quoted therein, or persons interviewed for the News are strictly their own and are in no way meant to represent the opinion or views of CDC or HHS. 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 HHS. 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 HHS. The News is in the public domain and may be freely forwarded and reproduced without permission. The original news sources and the Public Health Law News should be cited as sources. Readers should contact the cited news sources for the full text of the articles.