Health Policy Now (Track 3)

All times are in Eastern Time (ET)

Actions by the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government determine the nature and direction of health policy, but changing social norms can also be a driver. Sessions in this track examine the biggest challenges to current health policy, as well as emerging issues.
Topics include the Affordable Care Act, cannabis, gun violence, reproductive health, mental health, opioids/harm reduction, and vaccination policy.

Phasing Out the Sale of Combustible Tobacco

Concurrent Sessions 1: 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm, Tuesday, September 21, 2021

This panel will examine the arguments in favor of phasing out the sale of cigarettes and other combustible forms of tobacco: the policy options available, the potential impact on health and health disparities, and legal considerations. This session will provide participants with a greater understanding of the policy options available to phase out the sale of cigarettes and the legal and political considerations for advocates and policy makers to address.

Changing Legal Landscape of COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements & Distribution

Concurrent Sessions 2: 10:30 am – 11:45 am, Wednesday, September 22, 2021

This session will examine recent legal and ethical developments in the area of vaccination law related to the COVID-19 vaccine. This session will focus on a number of areas, including: 1) vaccination mandates and exemptions, including requirements for COVID-19 vaccination across K-12 schools and universities; 2) COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and hesitancy of parents for their children, and 3) top 5 lessons learned from the first 9 months of COVID vaccination policy.

Marijuana Regulation and Social Equity

Concurrent Sessions 3: 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm, Wednesday, September 22, 2021

This session will examine the public health costs associated with the enforcement of marijuana laws and state efforts to incorporate social equity measures into the growing legal marijuana market. Specifically, the panel will explore expungement measures, efforts to increase minority owned businesses, social equity employment measures, community investment measures focused on repairing the damages created by our nation’s war on drugs, and the legal and practical challenges states face in the implementation of these policies.

Opportunities to Leverage Law and Policy to Improve the Health and Well-being of the Nation in the Coming Decade

Concurrent Sessions 4: 3:00 pm – 4:15 pm, Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Law and policy can be leveraged to improve health and well-being; measuring and evaluating their impact is crucial. In this session, sources of data and tools to evaluate their role on health and equity outcomes, including Healthy People 2030’s national targets and resources, the Law and Health Policy Project, and CDC’s identification of high impact legal policies, will be covered. Lessons from the pandemic on the value of science-informed policy also will be discussed.

Medicaid’s Potential and Limitations in Supporting Public Health Policies

Concurrent Sessions 5: 4:30 pm – 5:45 pm, Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Medicaid provides critical health coverage for millions of low income Americans who would otherwise not be able to afford health care services. Although financed in large part by the federal government, Medicaid allows for considerable state policymaking. State discretion is often viewed as a positive. However, this session will explore areas where such discretion is more problematic, including State decision making as to Medicaid expansion, community engagement waivers, and inconsistent policies involving vaccine coverage.

Legal Tools that Threaten Public Health Progress

Concurrent Sessions 6: 10:00 am – 11:15 am, Thursday, September 23, 2021

This session will include a discussion of legal tools that threaten the public’s health in three key areas. Session presenters will examine the deregulation of concealed firearms and associated threats to public safety; the status of recent intrusive state abortion regulations and the threat they pose to women’s health; and the previous administration’s cancellation and rollback of environmental regulations and how these changes have affected environmental protection and health.

Health and Safety Warnings and the First Amendment

Concurrent Sessions 7: 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm, Thursday, September 23, 2021

Governments have long required health and safety warnings on products that may harm health. However, courts have become increasingly wary of regulations on commercial speech. This session will explore recent jurisprudence on compelled commercial speech, including its impact on new types of health and safety warnings in the tobacco and sugary drink contexts.

Harm Reduction Law and Policy: Past, Present, and Future

Concurrent Sessions 8: 2:30 pm – 3:45 pm, Thursday, September 23, 2021

This session will describe how law can both help and hinder access to evidence-based prevention and treatment for people who use drugs. Panelists will describe, among other things, how state laws to criminalize drug delivery can increase overdose deaths; how federal, state, and local law and policy changes can increase syringe access; and how one large county has adopted a set of evidence-based approaches to reducing drug-related harm.