The latest strategy to undermine Obamacare: challenge the constitutionality of a mandate that doesn’t exist [from Philly.com]

Can a law be unconstitutional if it doesn’t exist? That may sound like an abstract riddle, like the proverbial tree falling in a forest, but it is central to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The suit, brought by 20 Republican attorneys general, seeks to have the entire law thrown out, and the Trump administration recently announced its support.

SJC Rules in Correa v. Schoeck: Pharmacies Have a (Limited) Duty to Notify Physicians About the Need for Prior Authorization

On June 7, the SJC ruled in the plaintiff's favor, reversing the lower court's order of summary judgment for the defendant pharmacy.  The court held that a pharmacy has a "limited legal duty to take reasonable steps to notify both the patient and her prescribing physician of the need for prior authorization each time [she] tried to fill her prescription." 

Motivated by increasing numbers of "deaths of despair," the AMA adopts new policies aimed at reducing gun violence

Earlier this week the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates held their annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, during which delegates voted to adopt multiple policies related to firearms and gun violence. Some of these policies reinforce and enhance policy positions the AMA has supported for years, while other policies offer specific recommendations for legislation that is currently under consideration at the state and federal levels.

Policy Pathways to Address Provider Workforce Barriers to Buprenorphine Treatment [from American Journal of Preventive Medicine]

George Consortium member Rebecca L. Haffajee has a new article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine focusing on some of the reasons why only 40% of people with opioid use disorder actually receive medication-assisted treatment. One major reason is that so few physicians are licensed to even prescribe buprenorphine (such as Suboxone). Numerous workplace barriers contribute to this lack of licensing, including insufficient training, lack of peer support, inadequate reimbursement, and regulatory hurdles.

Public Health Law Watch Comments on HHS Regulation Proposal: Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights

Public Health Law Watch, joined by our friends at the Public Health Law Center, submitted official comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed amendments to 45 CFR 88, "Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights; Delegations of Authority." Based on our combined expertise in public health law and policy, we offered comments on five main issues: (1) the lack of evidence that these rule revisions are necessary; (2) the absence of consideration for patients who face refusal of care; (3) the potentially dangerous expansion of existing definitions around “conscience protections;” (4) the potential harm these rules will cause for the LGBTQ population; and (5) the detriment these proposals would cause to reproductive health and rights.

Legal Skills Through a Health Justice Lens: First-Year Northeastern Law Students Work Toward Health, Equity, and Justice for Two Oppressed Groups

We have a really special post today - George Consortium member Jason Potter describes his innovative work as a professor and also the work of his students here at Northeastern University School of Law. These first year law students studied legal skills through a lens of health justice, and turned health justice theory into practice by partnering with non-profit organizations and creating tangible guidance on issues of safe consumption facilities and barriers to health care for transgender individuals.

Medicaid Work Requirements Would Put Very Few People to Work [from philly.com]

The Trump administration recently agreed to let states get tough on Medicaid recipients who don’t work. Kentucky was the first to win approval of a plan to kick those who can work but don’t off the roles, and at least ten other states would like to do the same. Under these plans, in order to maintain coverage, able-bodied adults would have to prove that they are either employed in some form or are actively trying to be.

A Response to "Unintended Consequences: Medicaid and the Opioid Crisis"

Today, Public Health Law Watch sent a letter (both electronically and on paper) to every member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs in response to a January hearing entitled "Unintended Consequences: Medicaid and the Opioid Epidemic." That hearing and its accompanying report presented a slew of misinformation, misleading statistics, and poorly informed conclusions that attempted to blame the current opioid crisis on the expansion of Medicaid. The George Consortium members mobilized to respond with facts and real potential solutions.