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Center for Public Health Law and Policy

Changing the world of public health law

Since its inception in 2009, the Center for Public Health Law and Policy is at the forefront of emerging global and domestic issues in public health law, policy, and ethics, including emergency legal preparedness, vaccinations, health care reform, reproductive rights (see Center Memo - Arizona Abortion Laws and Policies Post-Dobbs), injury prevention, and constitutional rights and protections (see the Center's newest edition [as of 2/15/2024] of "SCOTUS Public Health Law Updates").

The center brings students together with leading scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to address critical challenges at the intersection of law, ethics, policy, and the public’s health. Its diverse group of scholars and national partners seeks to promote the role of law as a tool for improving the public’s health by conducting targeted legal and policy research, developing innovative tools and educational materials, generating extensive scholarship, and collaborating with public health and medical leaders. For an introduction and more information, please review our virtual “open house” recording.


ASU Law student sitting in a full classroom watching as James Hodge Jr. presents on Public Health Law.

Center achievements

From its origination in fall 2009, the center has flourished with the support of multiple faculty and colleagues across the university and has been at the forefront of health care and public health law, policy, and ethics. Some of its significant achievements include:

  • ASU Law is consistently ranked among the top 25 health law programs nationally by U.S. News and World Report - and currently #14 in U.S. News and World Report 2024;
  • One of 11 law schools receiving an A+ grade for its health law curriculum in 2023 by Prelaw Magazine (published via National Jurist);
  • Generation of over $7 million in external funding for projects and initiatives in public health law and policy;
  • Organizer of multiple national and regional conferences and symposia in public health law and health policy, including hosting the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics Health Law Professors Conference in 2012 and 2022;
  • Publication of over 200 manuscripts in premier journals of law, medicine, public health, and policy, including co-authorship credits for over 50 different ASU fellows, students, and alums;
  • 700+ cites in major media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Time, Newsweek, The Atlantic, NBC News, among others;
  • Full-time fellowship opportunities for multiple ASU Law graduates and other talented colleagues nationally;
  • Ascendance of ASU alums in major health law and policy positions in public and private sectors, including federal/state health agencies, large and mid-size law firms, policy enterprises, and academia;
  • Alliances with multiple programs and partners nationally and internationally; and
  • Multiple substantive projects in health law and public health law and policy (as per select project descriptions below).

 

Support the Strive for Excellence Campaign

Since its inception in 2009, the Center for Public Health Law and Policy has been nationally recognized for its work at the intersection of law, policy and population health. Please consider supporting the Center as it escalates nationally and regionally. Your support will directly fund the ascension of the center, its students and alumni.

Reach out to Tricia Hilbun for more information.


 

Model Public Health Laws

In partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. led the drafting of the MSIAQA with center co-drafters Erica N. White, Research Scholar, and Summer Ghaith, Senior Legal Researcher, in 2023. The MSIAQA presents a comprehensive legislative framework for regulating the quality of indoor air in public buildings. 

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Developed by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) and completed in 2007 with direct drafting assistance by center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr., the UEVHPA provides uniform legislative language to facilitate organized response efforts of volunteer health practitioners responding to public health emergencies.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded a multi-disciplinary group as part of its Turning Point Initiative from five states (Alaska, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin), multiple national organizations, and governmental agencies to conceive and draft a comprehensive model state public health act. The Turning Point Act offers model public health legislative provisions based on best practices for state, local, and tribal governments seeking to revise or update their public health laws.

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MSEHPA grants public health powers to state and local public health authorities to ensure strong, effective, and timely planning, prevention, and response mechanisms to public health emergencies (including bioterrorism) while also respecting individual rights. Developed by the Centers for Law and the Public's Health: A Collaborative at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities with multiple partners in 2001 (including center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. as a core member of the drafting team), state and local legislators and health officials have used the MSEHPA extensively for legislative reforms which have contributed to public health emergency preparedness and response efforts.

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With support from CDC and with significant input from an expert advisory group, MSPHPA addresses privacy and security issues arising from the acquisition, use, disclosure, and storage of identifiable health information by public health agencies at the state and local levels. The Act regulates the handling of identifiable, health-related information by public health agencies without significantly limiting the ability of these agencies to use such information for legitimate public health purposes.

Projects

Sponsored by the Washington State Department of Health, this project led by Center Director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. and Co-Director Jennifer L. Piatt aims to comprehensively assess and analyze the legal framework undergirding public health data sharing in Washington State. A plethora of federal and state laws, regulations, judicial interpretations, and policies shape and guide acquisitions, uses and disclosures of health data. Some laws ensuring health data privacy and confidentiality are viewed as barriers to its lawful data uses for research, surveillance, and policy-driven approaches aimed at improving communal health outcomes. A final report evaluating the legal landscape surrounding public health data sharing in the State will identify strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations to facilitate legal public health data sharing, as well as serve as a model for other states seeking to understand the complex legal environment surrounding data sharing.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 aimed to lower prescription drug pricing by empowering the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate drug prices directly – for the first time – with manufacturers. CMS issued guidance on its newly authorized Drug Price Negotiation Program on July 3, 2023, introducing plans to select drugs for negotiation as well as a proposed negotiation process. Although this novel authority via the IRA presents the potential for lower prices for commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals, Congress’ initiative has generated significant litigation among drug companies and others raising an array of constitutional arguments. A paucity of specific assessments, guidance, and explanations of the existing and forthcoming constitutional arguments arising from the IRA drug pricing provisions warrants specific, ongoing assessment and analyses over the short- and long-terms in the interests of patients and the public’s health. With initial Plantinum-level support from Center Adjunct Faculty member Joel Michaels, JD, the Center is intricately involved in assessing these issues through an organized series of activities.

Read more significant litigation

 

Sponsored by the Arizona Department of Health Services, this project led by Center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. comprehensively assessed key legal issues underlying the implementation of crisis standards of care in Arizona, resulting in a table of key questions and information based on Arizona state law. This template may serve as a model for other states and localities.

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Funded by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) through the Western Region Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Management (WRAP-EM), Center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. and colleagues assessed the emergency pediatric disaster response capabilities in six states: Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The resulting legal resource guide details law and policy issues shaping the development of a regional model to strengthen emergency pediatric disaster responses.

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With funding provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in partnership with ChangeLab Solutions, the Center led by Co-director Jen Piatt conducted a sweeping examination of state laws relating to EIZD control in ten states: Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Montana, New York, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Results were organized in a coded table addressing animals, zoonoses, and locations regulated, illustrating similarities, distinctions, and opportunities in state EIZD control approaches.

With funding from the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Center assessed public health emergency laws in 6 states: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The resulting legal resource guide evaluate potential legal and policy barriers to implementation along with solutions using a regional approach to improve disaster medical preparedness.

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Sponsored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this National Academies project contributed to by Center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. assessed the use of medical countermeasures (MCMs) via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in public health emergencies. Resulting guidance informed federal capabilities to assess and monitor MCMs.

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With funding provided by the Kresge Foundation, the Center provided targeted public health legal assistance and training to the Emerging Leaders in Public Health (ELPH) cohort of state and local public health officials in multiple western states. One such training opportunity addressed COVID-19-related legal concerns arising as virtual education shifted back to in-person learning in 2021. Additional efforts focused on reproductive rights and issues.

Funded by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) the Center assessed the resource allocation and coordinated response efforts during emergencies in 6 New England States: Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Evaluating the current legal and policy barriers to developing a regional response program, the Center produced a “playbook” outlining potential options for improving regional approaches to public health emergency preparedness.

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With support from the Greenwall Foundation, this project led by Center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. comprehensively assessed the ethical dilemmas in meeting heightened demands for scarce food supplies precipitated by public emergencies as experienced during COVID-19. Model ethics principles were developed in concert with an expert advisory committee to better guide the equitable distribution of scarce food resources through food banks or pantries.

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Sponsored by the Arizona Coalition for Healthcare Emergency Response (AzCHER), this project led by Center director Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. was updated in 2020 during the COVID pandemic to outline specific Arizona-based legal authorities to respond to public health emergencies. A resulting PowerPoint covers topics including emergency declarations, health data privacy, reporting requirements, crisis standard of care, and constitutional considerations.

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The Preemption Project is a key component of the Law Partnership, an initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to build a culture of health through collaborative efforts through multiple national partners. Preemption is a legal tool used by the federal and state governments to override the authority of lower-level governments to act on certain issues. State and local governments are drivers of innovative approaches in public health policy making. While preemption can be a positive tool for state or national uniformity on key laws or policies, it can also limit grassroots movements and evidence-based public health laws and policies.

ASU’s PHLP and ChangeLab Solutions partnered on the Preemption Project to identify strategies to address preemptive tactics through outreach to state and local governments, public health advocates and professionals, and public health lawyers to provide insight, information, and resources. Deliverables included case studies, typology briefs, legal scoping memoranda, a preemption template tool, and a final report identifying preemptive tactics and formulating effective response strategies.

The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a national initiative designed to promote the use of health impact assessments (HIAs) as decision-making tools for policymakers.

HIAs are commonly used in health sectors to assist researchers and policymakers in making decisions that will minimize population-based harms and maximize public health benefits. The Health Impact Project seeks to expand the use of HIAs in multiple sectors, including through environmental policy. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Environmental Policy Acts (SEPAs) require governmental agencies to fully assess the potential adverse environmental impacts of a proposed action or policy.

Though not explicitly required by NEPA, HIAs have strong legal and policy support for use in facilitating the environmental review process to the extent they provide agencies with a data-driven approach to quantifying adverse impacts on human health and safety with the potential to improve public health.

In a two-stage project, Principal Investigator Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. and center colleagues examined the legal and practical underpinnings of utilizing HIAs in environmental reviews. Statutory and regulatory frameworks, executive orders, case law, and past environmental review examples illustrate distinct opportunities to infuse health considerations and HIAs into the NEPA or SEPA process. These highlighted paths provide opportunities for public health practitioners and officials, advocates, community interest groups, and others to ensure the health impacts of projects assessed under NEPA and SEPAs are considered, evaluated, and mitigated where possible.

In 2013, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthcare Preparedness Activity (HPA), in collaboration with the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)/Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) created a forum to discuss expanded EMS roles during a medical surge event.ORAU and CDC instituted a two-part project including key legal inserts to the EMS Framework Report, as well as a legal analysis of potential issues that may impact EMS providers in the event of a medical surge during emergencies.

Center colleagues analyzed the statutes, regulations, and case laws of 20 key states to guide relevant laws and policies regulating EMS providers during PHEs and surge events. The final report examines the steps that various jurisdictions and entities can take for pre-surge planning and preparedness and the shifting levels of authority based on an emergency declaration. Other legal and practical issues are explored as well, including access to additional healthcare supplies, allocation of critical resources, and reimbursement.

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The Association of the State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), with support from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), sought to create innovative and realistic opportunities to include emergency medical services (EMS) providers into regular, daily activities within a wide variety of communities throughout the nation.

This project engaged innovative and relevant legal and policy research to determine legal obstacles that may hinder the activities of health professionals in routine community paramedicine (CP), a new model of community-based healthcare that is designed to use already existing EMS systems and personnel to enhance access to primary care and reduce overuse of EMS and costs.

As part of this endeavor, Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. and center colleagues reviewed and analyzed the current legal landscape surrounding EMS personnel and investigated laws that expedited or impeded the expanded EMS roles. The report analyzes legal issues underlying the use of expanded EMS activities, including authorizing the deployment of EMS personnel, liability concerns, the scope of practice, the standard of care, venue restrictions, medical supervision requirements, and reimbursement.

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The National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO), with support from CDC’s Public Health Law Program, works to provide local public health departments with the necessary tools to serve their populations when confronted with questions on public health legal preparedness through its Emergency Preparedness Training Kit.

Law provides critical support for public health efforts and responses during declared emergencies. Building public health legal capacity at the local level is crucial for emergency preparedness planning and response. After action reports from the 2009/2010 H1N1 response indicate that local health departments face numerous legal hurdles in responding to health incidents, including protection from legal liability, coordination and procurement of resources and response efforts among public and private actors, expansion of public health legal authority, and standards for credentialing volunteers.

In conjunction with NACCHO, Professor James G. Hodge, Jr., and center colleagues produced a curriculum to help prepare public health practitioners, their legal counsel, and other partners to understand and effectively address key issues in legal preparedness. The end product is a locally-customizable training curriculum and exercises scenarios, an instructor’s manual, training component summaries, and training videos.

View kit

Sponsored by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a project team led by center director Professor  James G. Hodge Jr. explored the legal and ethical environments related to mental and behavioral health before, during, and after declared emergencies that impact the public's health.

Among the many topics addressed under the guidance of multiple investigators and a Project Advisory Group include: mental and behavioral health services in the public and private sectors, liability, anti-discrimination, disability protections, health information privacy, governmental benefits, professional licensure of mental health personnel, human subjects research, and health and disability insurance.

Several applied tools intended to aid mental health providers, emergency workers, and public health practitioners in addressing mental health needs before, during, and after emergencies are listed below:

  1. The Potential Implications of CALIF v. City of Los Angeles for Mental and Behavioral Health Preparedness
  2. Frequently Asked Questions about Legal Preparedness for Health Care Providers and Administrators, Public Health Officials, Emergency Planners, and Others Regarding Mental and Behavioral Health
  3. Prescribing Authority During Declared Emergencies for Mental and Behavioral Health Care Providers
  4. Sample Legal Guidance Letter - Liability for Mental Health Providers
  5. Issue Brief: Substance Abuse Treatment, Emergencies, and the Law
  6. Frequently Asked Questions on Ethical Issues Related to Mental Health Care in Emergencies
  7. Mental Health Legal Preparedness and Crisis Standard of Care
  8. Emergency Detention of Persons Deemed a Danger to Themselves or Others During a Public Health Emergency

 

The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, promotes the use of health impact assessments (HIAs) as decision-making tools for policymakers. HIAs use a flexible, data-driven approach that identifies the health consequences of new policies and develops practical strategies to enhance their health benefits and minimize adverse effects. Through public health research and risk analysis, HIAs can help researchers and policy-makers reduce population-based harms and maximize the benefits of a given project.

HIAs have been used extensively in health sectors domestically and abroad. The effectiveness of these evaluations has encouraged researchers to determine whether HIAs might be a viable tool in non-health sectors such as environment and energy, transportation, agriculture, and waste disposal recycling to enhance the public’s health and well-being.

Principal Investigator and Professor James G. Hodge Jr. and center colleagues addressed how existing laws may facilitate the use of HIAs in non-health sectors through extensive legal and policy research focused on a specific sample of federal, tribal, state, and local laws. Thirty-six jurisdictions were selected for legal research based on their geographic, political, ethnic, and population-based diversity and the electronic availability of their laws.

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The Ethics in Public Health Emergency Preparedness Project is a collaboration of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and the center to create a model code of public health emergency ethics for health care, public health, and emergency preparedness officials and practitioners in Arizona.

The project aims to generate a series of core principles of ethics to help guide critical decisions among public and private actors during public health emergencies. Developing an Arizona-based model Code of Public Health Emergency Ethics may help provide consistent, morally justifiable guidance for these difficult decisions. This model was subsequently used to frame similar principles as part of Arizona's Crisis Standard of Care Committee.

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In collaboration with the Association of the State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHD), the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this report assesses legal and policy issues regarding the use of nurse triage lines (NTLs) during a pandemic. The report discusses legal challenges related to NTL design, professional relationships between NTL staff and callers, standard of care, operationalization before and during declared emergencies, ensuring adequate personnel and appropriate authority, and liability protections. Potential solutions to these challenges are proffered based on interpretations of law and practice and lessons learned from prior emergencies.

From 2005 to 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaborated with Professor James G. Hodge, Jr., then at the Centers for Law and the Public’s Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities, to complete the first phase of a public health initiative to aid state and local governments to implement Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT). EPT is the clinical practice of treating the sex partners of patients diagnosed with an STD, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, without clinical assessment of the partners in order to quickly curtail further transmission.

In 2010, CDC, working again with center director, Professor Hodge, launched a second phase of this project resulting in a toolkit providing a resource for voluntary use by state and local government officials. It includes sample state legislative language, a discussion of selected issues related to practitioners’ liability, as well as general guidance concerning drafting and implementing legislation and regulations concerning EPT.

View toolkit

Our graduates are making impacts across the country.

Our alumni are working in the health care and public health professions in public and private sector positions across the nation. Get to know some of our graduates and how they are making a difference in serving their clients and assuring improved health outcomes.

Public Health Law student gathering together in classroom with Professor James Hodge Jr.

Degree emphasis

Health law emphasis

In an era of substantial national and regional reforms in health care and public health, students and practitioners must be able to recognize, assess, and solve issues of law, ethics, and policy at the intersection of health care delivery and protection of community health. The nationally-ranked health law programs, projects, and initiatives at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University encompass an array of unique and emerging areas, including public health law and policy, personalized medicine, and neuroscience.

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Expertise

James G. Hodge Jr

James G. Hodge Jr. Peter Kiewit Foundation Professor of Law; Faculty Director, Center for Public Health Law and Policy

Jennifer L. Piatt, JD

Jennifer L. Piatt, JD Research Scholar and
Center Faculty Co-Director

Erica N. White

Erica N. White, JD Research Scholar

Leila Barraza

Leila Barraza Associate Professor, Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona

Joel Michaels

Joel Michaels Adjunct Professor of Law

Diana Bowman

Diana Bowman Associate Dean for International Engagement; Professor of Law

Karen Bradshaw

Karen Bradshaw Professor of Law

Charles Calleros

Charles CallerosProfessor and Alan A. Matheson Fellow in Law

Linda Demaine

Linda Demaine Roslyn O. Silver Professor of Law

Aaron Fellmeth

Aaron Fellmeth Dennis S. Karjala Professor of Law, Science and Technology

David Gartner

David Gartner Professor of Law

Myles V. Lynk

Myles V. Lynk Emeritus Professor; Faculty Fellow, Center for Law, Science and Innovation

Gary E. Marchant

Gary E. MarchantASU Regents Professor and Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law and Ethics

Michael J. Saks

Michael J. Saks Regents Professor of Law and Psychology; Faculty Fellow, Center for Law, Science and Innovation

Doug Sylvester

Doug Sylvester Professor of Law

Doug Campos-Outcalt

Doug Campos-Outcalt Faculty, Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona

Rolf Halden

Rolf Halden Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Fulton School of Engineering, ASU

Dr. John Shufeldt

John Shufeldt Adjunct Faculty