Eighth Annual Health Law Year in P/Review: Looking Back & Reaching Ahead

This post is part of our Eighth Annual Health Law Year in P/Review symposium. You can read all of the posts in the series here. Review the conference’s full agenda and register for the event on the Petrie-Flom Center’s website.

By Prof. I. Glenn Cohen and Kaitlyn Dowling

The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics is excited to host the Eighth Annual Health Law Year in P/Review to be held at Harvard Law School December 6, 2019. This one-day conference is free and open to the public and will convene leading experts across health law policy, health sciences, technology, and ethics to discuss major developments in the field over the past year and invites them to contemplate what 2020 may hold. This year’s event will focus on developments in health information technology, the challenge of increasing health care coverage, immigration, the 2020 election, gene editing, and drug pricing, among other topic areas.

As we come to the end of another year in health law, the event will give us both a post-mortem on the biggest trends in 2019 and also some predictions on what’s to come in 2020.

Among the topics we will discuss:

Health Reform: We are currently in the thick of the Democratic primary elections, which have been dominated by discussions of health care and health insurance reform: plans for implementing Medicare-for-all, expanding Obamacare through a public option, and banning private insurance have all made headlines. Are candidates focused on the right aspect of health care reform? How do you think the health care debate will shift as we move to the general election in 2020?

Drug Pricing: Americans face a critical need for cheaper prescription drugs, and President Trump has prioritized implementing policies that will lower prices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have signaled their willingness to strike a deal. However, we’ve yet to see any real movement. Plans like drug importation from Canada and government regulation of prices face opposition. And price disclosure laws are facing both legal challenges and effectiveness critiques. Will there be any significant movement in the coming year?

Immigration and Health Care: The crisis at the southern border intensified in 2019. In June, NBC News reported the Department of Homeland Security “found ‘egregious violations’ at two detention centers it inspected, including nooses in detainee cells, inadequate medical care, rotten food and other conditions that endangered detainee health.” How do experts in law and public health evaluate what has been going on and can we expect a more humane approach to health care and immigration next year?

Gene Editing: It has been just over a year since the revelations of unethical germline gene editing in China. In both legislatures and the public these unsettling events continue to raise tough questions. Do we need a moratorium? What’s in an “M” word, in terms of ethics and policy? What kind of regulatory approach makes sense? How are expected reports from the National Academies and the WHO likely to change the state of play.

AI and Health IT: From complaints about hospitals sharing patient data with Google, to concerns about bias baked into health care algorithms, to liability concerns for physicians using AI in their practice, to worries about adversarial attacks on health care AI systems, 2019 may be the year where the world really began to focus on the legal and ethical issues raised by AI and Health IT. At the same time, investment in the sector is as robust as ever and more and more big players like Google, Apple, and Amazon are developing in the market. Where is all this headed?

This and much more will be discussed at our event. But we also want to hear from you!

What do you think we will be looking back on next December at the Ninth Annual Health Law Year in P/Review? What are you most excited about in the coming year?

And remember: P/Review is free and open to the public, but registration is required. You can review the full agenda and register for the event now.




I. Glenn Cohen

I. Glenn Cohen is the James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and current Faculty Director of the Petrie-Flom Center. A member of the inaugural cohort of Petrie-Flom Academic Fellows, Glenn was appointed to the Harvard Law School faculty in 2008. Glenn is one of the world's leading experts on the intersection of bioethics (sometimes also called "medical ethics") and the law, as well as health law. He also teaches civil procedure. From Seoul to Krakow to Vancouver, Glenn has spoken at legal, medical, and industry conferences around the world and his work has appeared in or been covered on PBS, NPR, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the New Republic, the Boston Globe, and several other media venues. He was the youngest professor on the faculty at Harvard Law School (tenured or untenured) both when he joined the faculty in 2008 (at age 29) and when he was tenured as a full professor in 2013 (at age 34).

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