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Fall 2024 Seminar

Health Care Rights in the Twenty-First Century

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Politicians and protesters alike often utter the familiar phrase that “health care is a right, not a privilege.” People for whom access to health care is a quite literally a matter of life or death recognize that the truth is more complicated. American health care is broken. We long ago abandoned President Roosevelt’s effort to include the right to adequate medical care as among those in a Second Bill of Rights necessary for the security and prosperity of all. The status quo reveals the central importance of rights within our health care system, especially around issues of resource allocation, access to care, and equity. 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 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.

This course satisfies the clinical seminar requirement for the Health Law & Policy Clinic. The drop deadline for students enrolled in this course in a clinical seat is August 23, 2024.

To learn more about the Clinical Curriculum and Registration, please visit our Clinical Registration Center.
You can also find more information on How to Register for Clinics and How Clinical Credits Work.