This digital symposium explores recommendations for the Biden/Harris administration’s health policy agenda. We asked leading health law scholars to describe one health policy action the administration should pursue, beyond the pandemic response. Their recommendations make up this symposium. The responses range from concrete policy changes to broad reform ideas and can be grouped into three categories, those that (1) Reverse and Restore; (2) Reinforce; (3) Reform.
By Jenna Becker
Assuming that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) withstands its most recent challenge in California v. Texas, the Biden administration should prioritize as a future reform the codification of clearer nondiscrimination standards.
The ACA’s Section 1557, which provides anti-discrimination protections, has been fraught with challenges. Section 1557 incorporates nondiscrimination protections from four separate civil rights statutes. This vague language allows administrations to offer widely differing interpretations of healthcare anti-discrimination protections.
In a 2016 rule, the Obama administration interpreted Section 1557 broadly, including protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as specific language access requirements. Many of these protections were eliminated in a 2020 rule promulgated by the Trump administration.
It’s time to end these fluctuating standards. The Biden administration should work with Congress to add clearer nondiscrimination protections to the ACA.
By Emily Largent
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and this semester, I have been fortunate enough to take a class on the Civil Rights Movement with Professor Randall Kennedy. This has prompted me to examine the influence of race on healthcare delivery in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. Racism infected all aspects of the healthcare system, including medical schools and schools of nursing, residencies and post-graduate training, professional societies for doctors and nurses, ambulance services, outpatient clinics, staff privileges at hospitals, hospital admissions, and medical research. Doubtlessly, the color line in medicine compounded physical ills with emotional and dignitary harms.
I find the stories related to the segregation of the American blood supply during World War II to be particularly interesting because they show that discrimination was a national (i.e., not just a Southern) problem, and there is a small connection to Harvard Law School. Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South by John Egerton has proven to be an excellent source of information on this topic.
Blacks made contributions to the war effort in many capacities. William H. Hastie, a graduate of Harvard Law School, took leave from his position as Dean at Howard University School of Law (HUSL) to accept an appointment as civilian aide to Secretary of War Stimson. Charles R. Drew, a physician who had conducted pioneering research on typing, preserving, and storing blood for later transfusion, helped both Britain and the United States establish blood programs to support military operations. In February 1941, Drew was made medical director of the American Red Cross blood bank program.
Late in 1941, the surgeons general of the United States Army and Navy informed the Red Cross that only blood from white donors would be accepted for military use. Although it had been conclusively proven that there were no racial differences in blood, the military yielded to prevailing social bias and heavy political pressure. In January 1942, the War Department revised its position, agreeing to accept blood from black donors, though also insisting on rigid adherence to segregation of the blood supply. The Red Cross not only accepted that decision but declared that it had no interest in trying to settle racial-social controversies. Later, Red Cross officials “suggested that those who persisted in criticizing the policy were unpatriotically attempting to cripple the blood donor service and thus harm the war effort itself.” Read More
Join us for an important public forum:
Constitutional Implications of Ebola:
Civil Liberties & Civil Rights In Times of Health Crises
This public forum addresses the constitutional and public health implications of Ebola response in the United States. According to state and federal laws, patient information is deemed private and is to be held in strict confidentiality. However, in the wake of Ebola, well-established protocols to guard patient privacy have been neglected or suspended without public debate. At this forum, a panel of experts raise questions not only about how to contain the disease, but also to what extent Americans value their healthcare privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights. To what extent are Americans’ Ebola fears influenced by the origins of the disease? What liberties are Americans willing to sacrifice to calm their fears? How to balance the concern for public welfare with legal and ethical privacy principles?
Speakers: Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.; Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Chair, UC Irvine School of Law; Professor Andrew Noymer, UC Irvine School of Public Health; and Dr. George Woods, American Psychiatric Association.
This Forum intervenes in the current national and international discourse on Ebola by probing law’s role in addressing public health crises. This forum is free and open to the public.
WHEN: Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3.30pm-5.30pm
WHERE: University of California Irvine, School of Law; ROOM EDU 1111, 401 E Peltason Dr, Irvine, CA 92612