Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights

  • SPH LW 709: Healthcare Rationing: Medicine, Markets and Morals
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH health law core course requirement
    Although health care is rationed in a variety of ways in the United States, Americans, and American politicians in particular, make believe that rationing does not exist. Indeed, efforts at health care reform have often been criticized for leading to "rationing' health care resources, implying that rationing is something evil. The idea that all Americans get the health care they need or that we have limitless resources is obviously not so. What health care is available and to whom is the result of the often invisible choices policy makers make. This course critically explores the health care allocation choices that have been made and will be made in the future. It analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of various rationing methods, the values and moral judgments reflected in each, and the political and financial factors influencing the choice of approach, as well as who should make such choices. Examples of rationing to be discussed include the distribution of organs for transplantation, determining what constitutes "necessary" care under insurance schemes, the use of markets and lotteries as rationing methods, limitations on population screening, the use of age and "social worth" to limit health care to individuals, triage in emergencies, and the utility (or disutility) of cost-benefit analysis for making decisions about the availability and distribution of health care. By the end of the course, students will be able to articulate the range of possible rationing methods and to appropriately apply these methods to different scarce resource circumstances.
  • SPH LW 719: Essentials of Public Health Law
    Law is an essential tool for creating and implementing public health policies. The goal of this course is to enable students to understand how and when the law can be used to implement health policies and programs. It is designed for students who do not have prior experience or education in law and covers basic legal concepts and the process of decision making by legislative, administrative, and judicial bodies. Students learn how to construct oral and written arguments while analyzing how American law balances the rights of individuals with the interests of government and where appropriate analyzes the ethics of policy choices. By examining constitutional, common-law and statutory rights related to public health and health care students are prepared to compare such rights with those in other countries and in relation to the aspirational rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights concentrators must take LW751.
  • SPH LW 725: Ethical Issues in Medicine and Public Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH 719; or consent of instructor.
    This course reviews the nature and scope of moral dilemmas and problematic decision making in public health, medicine, and health care. After a survey of ethical theory, the course focuses on a broad range of ethical concerns raised by the theory and practice of public health and medicine: the nature of health, disease and illness, health promotion and disease prevention; rights, access, and the limits of health care; the physician-patient relationship; truthtelling and confidentiality. Through a series of case studies, the course examines specific topics: the bioethics movement and its critiques; human experimentation; the role of institutional review boards; the concept and exercise of informed, voluntary consent; abortion, reproduction, genetic counseling and screening; euthanasia, death and dying; ethics committees; and international and cross-cultural perspectives.
  • SPH LW 739: Jewish Bioethics and Holocaust Studies
    The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to resources for and approaches to Jewish biomedical ethics. Selected issues will be studied in some depth to develop the ability to interpret relevant primary sources and evaluate competing readings of these sources. Attention will be given to different approaches in interpreting and applying Jewish texts and values in addressing contemporary issues. We will then focus on medical ethics and the Holocaust. The historical experience of the Holocaust has had a major impact on contemporary Jewish ethicists. We will examine the relevance of the Nazi doctors, racial hygiene, euthanasia, and genocide for contemporary bioethics. The field of Jewish bioethics affords us the opportunity to explore the complex interface of philosophy, theology, halakha (Jewish law), and secular law and ethics. Students will also consider philosophical approaches in bioethics and their significance for Judaism. This course is taught with CAS RN 439/ GRS RN 739/ STH TX859 at Charles River Campus.
  • SPH LW 740: Health and Human Rights
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH 719; or consent of instructor.
    This course focuses on health and it is closely linked to the realization of human rights. Preventable illness, infant mortality, and premature death, for example, are closely tied to societal discrimination and violation of human rights. This course explores the relationship between human rights and health by examining relevant international declarations in historical context, exploring the meaning of "human rights" and "health," and analyzing specific case studies that illuminate the problems, prospects, and potential methods of promoting health by promoting human rights on the national and international levels.
  • SPH LW 799: Research with Human Subjects: Fundamental Legal and Ethical Principles
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH core course in Health Law, Bioethics and Human rights or enrollment in an MS or doctoral program or permission of instructors
    This seminar course prepares students for complex legal and ethical issues they will encounter when designing and conducting clinical, social science or epidemiological research with human beings. Through readings, class discussions, writing assignments and a class exercise, students develop skills in interpreting and applying federal regulations and ethical principles to contemporary research circumstances. This class is appropriate for MPH, MS, and PhD students.
  • SPH LW 800: Genetics, Law and Public Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH health law, bioethics and human rights core course requirement or LAW JD867 or permission of instructor.
    This seminar is suitable for any student who wants to be prepared to identify and respond to legal and policy issues that arise when genetics is integrated with public health research and practice. Case studies based on practical problems and dilemmas form the basis of in-class exercises and written assignments. Analyzing the circumstances of these cases gives students opportunities to further their understanding of law and to link that understanding to other areas of knowledge while addressing realistic problems and dilemmas. Cases and related course materials cover a variety of circumstances including DNA banking, newborn screening programs, direct-to-consumer testing services, and genetic counseling.
  • SPH LW 830: Health Insurance and the Affordable Care Act
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH 719 or SPH LW 719; or instructor permission.
    This seminar offers an in-depth examination of the pivotal role of public and private insurance in US health policy. Health insurance pays for almost all health care in the US, strongly influencing (often dictating) who gets what care and on what terms. The class explores how the Affordable Care Act affects the design, operation, and regulation of health benefit plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, employer-sponsored group plans, and commercial insurance. Investigating contemporary regulations, students learn fundamentals of insurance, where reforms do and do not alter such fundamentals, and whether reforms affect larger principles of law. Topics include state and federal regulation; ERISA plan requirements; ERISA preemption of certain state laws; accepting, managing and shifting financial risk; designing health insurance exchanges; contracting with providers, Accountable Care Organizations, employers, and individuals; designing and administering plans; defining benefits, including Essential Health Benefits; appeals and remedies; and state adaptations of health insurance exchanges, subsidy wrap-arounds, risk corridors, and Medicaid expansions.
  • SPH LW 840: Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH719 or consent of instructor.
    Health law, bioethics, and human rights converge within the field of public health at the national and international levels. This seminar explores the theoretical meaning of this convergence, engages the sources of authority for human rights, and uses case studies to examine how public health advocates can be effective in the realms of social justice and equity. Examples include the U.S. legal and various international standards creating a "right to health;" economic rights and the importance of money in health care; reproductive rights and technologies; standards for medical research and informed consent; and framing the end of life as a public health or a human rights issue.
  • SPH LW 850: Public Health Law
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH719 or consent of instructor.
    Traditional public health is rapidly transforming itself from state programs to prevent disease in populations (e.g., vaccinations and newborn screening) to federal and international efforts to more broadly promote the "right to health." This problem-oriented seminar enables students to analyze and answer questions about health risks and public health policies as they typically arise in practice -- in all their complexity and without preassigned doctrinal labels. It covers contemporary examples of the seven deadly sins -- anger, gluttony, lust, sloth -- plus drugs, alcohol, tobacco, food, firearms, biobanks, epidemics, and surveillance. The seminar offers a systematic framework for identifying and controlling health risks, drawing on theories of risk perception, cognitive reasoning and empirical evidence. Students analyze and compare the applicability and effectiveness of different legal strategies to control risks, such as criminal and civil prohibitions, mandatory product standards, tort liability, mandatory data collection, biometric testing, conditions of employment, marketing restrictions, quarantine, and taxation. Emphasis is on the different scope of laws (state, federal and international) regulating personal behavior and laws regulating products and commercial activities. A writing project to develop a legal strategy to address a contemporary risk to health is required.
  • SPH LW 854: Mental Health Law, Policy & Ethics
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH 719; or permission from instructor.
    This seminar tackles some of the most complex issues in mental health, such as involuntary confinement, adolescent disorders and decision-making, deinstitutionalization, the right to treatment and the right to refuse treatment, criminalization, substance use disorders, medicalization and the meaning of mental illness, forced treatments, discrimination, confidentiality, research, and professional ethics. The course will focus primarily on legal cases, utilizing these as case studies to explore the intersection of law, policy, and ethics to determine the manner in which we attempt to understand and regulate in the area of mental health.
  • SPH LW 951: Directed Studies in Health Law, Bioethics, & Human Rights
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH 719; or consent of instructor.
    Directed Studies provide the opportunity for students to explore a special topic of interest under the direction of a full-time SPH faculty member. Students may register for a 1, 2, 3, or 4-credit directed study by submitting a paper registration form and a signed directed study proposal form. Directed studies with a non-SPH faculty member or an adjunct faculty member must be approved by and assigned to the department chair. Students are placed in a section by the Registrar's Office according to the faculty member with whom they are working. Students may take no more than eight credits of directed study, directed research, or practical courses during their MPH education.
  • SPH LW 952: Directed Research in Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH 719; or consent of instructor.
    Directed Research provide the opportunity for students to explore a special topic of interest under the direction of a full-time SPH faculty member. Students may register for 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits. To register, students must submit a paper registration form and signed directed research proposal form. Students are placed in a section by the Registrar's Office according to the faculty member with whom they are working. Students may take no more than eight credits of directed study, directed research, or practica courses during their MPH education.