Public Health Law

Legal Resources

Community Health Needs Assessments

Community health needs assessments (CHNAs) and implementation strategies are newly required of tax-exempt hospitals as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). These assessments and strategies create an important opportunity to improve the health of communities. They ensure that hospitals have the information they need to provide community benefits that meet the needs of their communities. On December 31, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final rules for CHNAs. ASTHO's State Health Policy team created an issue brief detailing the requirements of the new IRS rules. Read more »

Healthcare-Associated Infections

In March 2011, ASTHO and CDC jointly released the HAI policy toolkit Eliminating Healthcare-Associated Infections: State Policy Options. The companion report, Policies for Eliminating Healthcare-Associated Infections: Lessons from State Stakeholder Engagement, was released in January 2012. CDC also released a Menu of Selected Provisions in HAI Laws.
Read more »

Informed Consent for Newborn Screening Research

On July 22, 2011, the Federal Register published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making seeking public input on changes to the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects (Federal Policy). These proposed changes require written consent for research use of biospecimens, even those stripped of identifiers. On Dec. 18, 2014, the President signed the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2014 (Act) into law. Section 12 of the Act addresses the issue of informed consent for newborn screening research. The Act applies to newborn dried bloodspots collected 90 days after enactment and until regulatory updates to the Federal Policy are promulgated. ASTHO’s State Health Policy team produced an issue brief describing the current status of state laws related to informed consent for newborn screening research.

Partnership for Public Health Law

The Partnership for Public Health Law is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation collaborative of: the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the National Association of Local Boards of Health. The Partnership seeks to improve health outcomes through greater understanding and use of law in public health practice. The Partnership has created several resources to help increase the knowledge and use of law among the organizations and their members. Read more »

Public Health Emergency Law

ASTHO has developed a series of toolkits that address the key information needs of public health officials in understanding and using legal authorities to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. This series arose from needs identified by state and local public health agencies regarding legal questions that were perceived to be barriers to effective planning and response to infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, intentional acts, and other emergency events. Read more »

Provider Scope of Practice

"Scope of practice" describes the procedures and actions that are lawfully permitted in a given profession, as well as places limits upon the profession's functions. To facilitate coverage expansions under health care reform, many believe revising state laws to allow certain professions to practice independently or increase the procedures they are able to provide is one way to increase primary care capacity. Read more »