Strengthening Public Health Legal Capacity (Track 5)

All times are in Eastern Time (ET)

Law can be a powerful tool to protect the health of communities. Sessions in this track will help public health officials, attorneys, practitioners and advocates better understand how law can impact programs and initiatives, and how it relates to the work they do.

Topics explored in this track include preemption, emergency preparedness, executive decision making, public health authority, shared services, agency accreditation, and data sharing and privacy.

Preemption, Public Health and Health Equity: A Proposed Framework and Research Agenda

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

Some states are increasingly using preemption to thwart local policies that may improve public health and reduce inequities. Nevertheless, preemption is not inherently adversarial to public health, equity, or good governance, but rather reflects its wielder’s goals and values. This session will highlight recent trends in preemption, including those related to COVID-19, and will explore an equity-first framework for facilitating case-by-case assessments of whether preemption will worsen inequities or whether it’s an appropriate response to address inequities.

Advancing Public Health Law through Health Department Accreditation and the Essential Public Health Services Framework

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

The national health department accreditation program provides a unique opportunity to advance law and policy activities. This session will highlight the role of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) standards in setting national expectations. It will showcase how health departments perform on law/policy standards and the ongoing process to revise them. It will also highlight how law is represented in the newly revised Essential Public Health Services framework, which is the organizing framework for the PHAB standards.

Empowering Public Health to Influence Federal Regulation

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

This session will highlight how modest “watchdog” programs can demystify federal regulatory initiatives and empower health professionals to alter the course of federal policy. Focusing on the FDA, panelists will describe current efforts to monitor the FDA’s regulation of food, tobacco products and drugs. Session presenters will highlight public health successes in these areas, easy ways to become more involved in the regulatory process, and opportunities for similar programs across the federal landscape.

Revisiting Crisis Standards of Care: Law, Policy, and Ethics Implementation

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

In 2009/2010, the Institute of Medicine (now NASEM) convened an expert committee to define crisis standards of care (CSC). The resulting report became a standard-bearer for CSC implementation. Following the 10th Anniversary of NASEM’s CSC report, new considerations have emerged. This session will explore key changes in law, ethics, and policy arising since the introduction of CSC guidance, and lay out core modifications and lessons for ongoing implementation of CSC planning nationally and regionally.

Promoting Data Sharing while Protecting Tribal Sovereignty: The Role of Law

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

This session will provide an overview of Tribal public health law and Tribal inherent authority to promote public health in their communities. It will include a discussion of the role of Tribal Epidemiology Centers in promoting public health and the barriers in gaining access to federal, state and local public health data. It will also highlight successes and innovation surrounding data sharing with Tribal and urban Indian communities.

Sounding the Alarm: The Duty of a Public Health Official to Take a Politically Unpopular Stand

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

Politics can overwhelm public health practice. The COVID-19 pandemic and Flint’s water crisis are good examples. When politics threatens population health, must public health officials take a stand against those politics? If so, how does and how should the law account for this responsibility and, as we’ve learned, the political and personal costs to officials for doing so? This session will address these questions.

Analyzing and Utilizing Powers to Remove Legal Barriers to Emergency Response

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

Laws that operate successfully under normal circumstances can inadvertently create barriers during emergencies, delaying a timely response. To combat this risk, legislatures have passed emergency powers laws in each state granting governors the authority to declare a state of emergency and suspend statutes and regulations. This panel will describe an assessment of these laws, provide two real-world examples of their use by practitioners, and describe how jurisdictions can identify and mitigate legal barriers.

Legal Epidemiology: The State of Innovation

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

This session will highlight the current and future state of innovation in the field of legal epidemiology. Session presenters will discuss how legal epidemiology is revolutionizing both local and state advocacy efforts and will round out the session with a conversation that focuses on strengthening public health capacity at a global level.