Boston University School of Law

Health Law Newsletter Fall 2011

Faculty News

Prof. Moncrieff uses ACA controversy as a “teaching moment”

Abigail MoncrieffThe Affordable Care Act is providing Associate Professor of Law Abigail R. Moncrieff with two proverbial “teaching moments.”

New ACA-related Seminar

Moncrieff and Associate Professor of Law Kevin Outterson are co-teaching a seminar this year titled Constitutional Health Care Litigation, in which students will write amicus briefs supporting or challenging the ACA. Students may have the opportunity to work on behalf of real clients when preparing and filing the amicus briefs.

“There are five or six tough issues at play, and we think it’s a terrific opportunity for students to get some practical experience in addition to the academic experience of researching and writing the amicus briefs for the litigation,” said Moncrieff. “It’s a rare opportunity for any student to write an amicus brief that gets submitted, and we’re certainly not promising people that they will file the amicus brief that they write. But we have talked to a few potential clients who are possibly interested. At the very least, this will be great practical training, and a lot of fun.”

AJLM’s Annual Symposium

Meanwhile, Moncrieff is organizing the American Journal of Law & Medicine’s annual symposium, titled “The American Right to Health: Constitutional, Statutory, and Contractual Healthcare Rights in the United States.” The symposium will examine Americans’ health care rights and freedoms and the impact those rights and freedoms will have in litigation over the ACA’s constitutionality.

Moncrieff notes that plaintiffs’ lawsuits argue that the new law violates structural constitutional constraints, yet their public comments mostly focus on the law’s substance, particularly the notion that government might be allowed to compel individuals to buy health insurance.

“There’s a tension between the substantive and structural complaints which raises important questions,” said Moncrieff. “Is there a reason to prefer the structural to the substantive holdings? Is there a reason for the trend toward more structural holdings rather than substantive holdings? There are a lot of very interesting questions involved.”

The symposium will be held Jan. 28, 2012, at BU Law. The symposium’s student leaders are Eric Lavin ( ’12) and Caitlin Johnston ( ’12).

Appointed to Massachusetts Health Information Technology Council

In addition to teaching, Moncrieff was appointed recently to the Massachusetts Health Information Technology Council by Governor Deval Patrick. The council advises the Massachusetts eHealth Institute, which is responsible for advancing the dissemination of health information technology across the state, including the deployment of electronic health records systems.

Marriage

While juggling professional responsibilities, Moncrieff enjoyed a significant personal milestone this spring, marrying Michael Henninger on May 21 in Henninger’s home state of Minnesota, in a ceremony officiated by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sydney Thomas.  The couple met through mutual friends in Boston, where Henninger is working toward his Ph.D. in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also working in a neuroscience lab. Moncrieff and Henninger honeymooned in Australia for three weeks, where they hiked, learned to scuba dive and enjoyed the beaches in northeast Queensland.

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