Home > Legal Research > Health Care Law Research in the Limelight

Health Care Law Research in the Limelight

There are many ways to describe health law.  Health Law is comprised of not only the law of the delivery of health care and the financing of these systems, but also all areas of law that are intersected between law and health.  These areas of law include bioethics (e.g. the ethics of end-of-life decisions), criminal law (i.e. the role of the government protecting elders and children from mistreatment), medical malpractice (i.e. the deterrence method for civil liability for health provider negligence), and employment law (i.e. occupational health and safety and worker’s compensation standards).  You may find that there are individual categories that make up health law as a whole.  For many, health law is subdivided into laws governing health care law, public and population health law, bioethics, and global health law.  This overview is just a mere snapshot in the big picture of what is health law. For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on health care law.

Much of health care law focuses on legislative, executive, and judicial rules and regulations that govern the health care industry.  The intended audience of these laws include hospitals and hospital systems, public and private insurers, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, and the individuals who treat patients.  You may be familiar with some of the subcategories that include fraud and abuse dealing with insurance claims, food and drug laws and regulations (FDA), medical malpractice, and heath care mergers and acquisitions. Health care law researchers must deal with a variety of legal sources.  These sources range from the traditional statutes and cases to more complex administrative materials, which includes rules, agency decisions, commentaries, manuals, and guidelines.

Health care law exists at both federal and state levels.  The ability to regulate health care institutions is a policing power left to the states, and must further health, safety and the general welfare.  Licensure or certification is the primary method chosen by state legislatures to regulate the health care industry and its facilities. That being said, the major height of authority behind health care regulation is the federal-state Medicaid program.  In other words, a state’s authority under the Medicaid program is subject to federal regulation, specifically the federal Department of Health and Human Services. In order to participate in the Medicaid program, a state must submit a state plan that meets federal standards under the federal statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1396(a). Each state subscribes to different approaches for regulating the health care institutions within their borders.  To research each state, a 50 state survey may be extremely helpful for you to compare the differing laws and regulations. BNA, LexisNexis and Westlaw allow for you to access various 50 state surveys by topic.

Here are a few short (2-3 minute) video tutorials on how to access 50-State Surveys on each of the above resources.  For this example, assume you are looking for a state-by-state comparison of power of attorney laws and regulations:

As already noted, states have the ability to regulate health care facilities under their policing power.  Conversely, the federal government’s power to regulate this industry is derived from its financing authority or from the constitutional Commerce Clause.  The federal government as a purchaser, under the federal health care programs of Medicare and Medicaid, regulates health care facilities through a certification program.  Thus, in order to receive payments under either one of the federally funded insurance programs, the health care facility must be certified and sign a provider agreement with the Health Care Financing Administration for Medicare and with the state’s Medicaid agency for Medicaid. In sum, because the federal government provides a significant amount of funding to these programs, they are given the power to regulate the receiving facilities quality of care.

The majority of health care federal statutes are contained within the following U.S.C. Titles:

To make life easier, Westlaw and LexisNexis have created specific databases that house these collections of Health Care Federal laws:

But a better tactic than merely going and searching through these various databases or large statutory schemes, try to start your research with a research guide.  The following guides outline the various topics and relevant statutes for issues addressed in health care law.

Still have questions?  Jot it down in a comment and we’ll see what we can do to help you find the answer!

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  1. July 4, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Thanks for the marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it,
    you happen to be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back
    in the future. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great posts, have a nice holiday
    weekend!

  2. July 6, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Health care should be made available for everybody.awareness of the use of medical cannabis should be raised so politicians can make a clear law protecting sick people that uses medical cannabis.

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