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Fall 2021 Seminar

Health Care Rights in the Twenty-First Century

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the central importance of rights within our health care system, raising questions of resource allocation, access to care, and equity. Underlying our response to the new health landscape is the fundamental question whether Americans enjoy a basic entitlement to health care. This course will briefly trace the history of the American conception of health care rights through the last half-century of administrative and political cycles. We will contrast a diverse array of ideological perspectives over this progression to understand the context of the current climate.

Building on this background, we will consider a broad range of rights-affording sources across the landscape of the modern American health care system: Federal civil rights statutes; the laws and agreements that govern public and private health insurance arrangements; common law duties as between patients, providers and payers; and other state and federal statutes that govern health care consumers, insurers, institutions and spending. We will place congressional and common law health care rights provisions in the broader context of civil rights jurisprudence, including anti-discrimination regimes. We will also trace the shift in access to care in evaluating how our health system responded to a once in a lifetime pandemic. Applying a lens of civil rights to these sources of law, we will consider differing avenues available to achieve enforcement of health care rights, including through administrative and policy-based advocacy, as well as more formalized litigation.

The seminar is designed to be limited lecture, incorporating debates, role-plays, and other interactive sessions. Class participation is expected. The seminar will culminate in a student project arising from the course materials. Students will have the option of further honing their health care rights skills by participating in the Health Law and Policy Clinic in conjunction with this seminar.

The seminar will appeal to law students interested in working across the spectrum of the health care field generally, to those interested in the intersection between law and health care, and to those who aspire to be civil rights lawyers.

Some seats are reserved for students in the fall Health Law and Policy clinic. If a student drops the fall Health Law and Policy clinic, they will also lose their reserved seat in this course. Please note that this course has an early drop deadline of August 13, 2021 for students enrolled in reserved clinical seats.