July 6, 2015
Religious nonprofits hoping to force yet another Obamacare showdown before the Supreme Court haven’t chalked up the appellate win they need to put the issue on a glide path to the justices, but they aren’t losing faith, saying it’s only a matter of time before their legal campaign pays off...Holly Lynch, a bioethics expert at Harvard Law School who has tracked the debate, said circuit courts don’t necessarily take their cues from each other. “That’s how we get splits,” she said. “However, it is plausible to think that a judge is more likely to be swayed by an argument she or he knows that other judges have found legally persuasive — even more so if they know that lots of other judges have found the same way.”
The Obama administration on Monday ordered all insurers to provide IUDs, the contraceptive patch and other birth control free of out-of-pocket charge to all women, thereby rewriting the rules after reports that some insurance carriers were refusing to cover all types of contraceptives...Pro-choice groups and others had said insurers were using so-called "medical management" to either skirt the rules or plead ignorance. For example, an inquiry by the New York attorney general found one plan told a patient she couldn't get the NuvaRing — for which there is no generic on the market — without cost-sharing because she could use birth control pills with the same chemical formulation. Holly Lynch, a bioethics experts at Harvard Law School who closely tracks Obamacare's contraception rules, said that was exactly the type of problem that HHS wanted to erase. "Just because a pill would be available for free doesn't mean that an insurer could refuse to make the ring available for free," she said.
Corporations with religious objections have already been granted relief from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, but religious colleges and charities are still fighting the administration in court, saying that, as of right now, they’re getting even worse treatment. Two Baptist colleges take their case to a federal appeals court in Houston on Tuesday, and another appeals court in Denver is expected to rule any day now on an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns that also objects to the mandate...“I do not think that nonprofits can look to Hobby Lobby and say we should be exempt too, like for-profits, because for-profits are only temporarily exempt,” said Holly Lynch, a health and ethics expert at Harvard Law School. “The question is whether the accommodation that has been offered to nonprofits, and soon to certain for-profits, can withstand an RFRA challenge.”
Nearly 800 former research subjects and their families filed a billion-dollar lawsuit Wednesday against the Johns Hopkins University, blaming the institution for its role in 1940s government experiments in Guatemala that infected hundreds with syphilis, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases...Legal experts said the lawsuit's arguments could be a stretch. Today, professors who frequently serve on a volunteer basis with the National Institutes of Health, for example, are generally considered to be acting independently and not in their capacity as university faculty, said Holly Fernandez Lynch, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard University Law School.
February 26, 2015
There is a delicate balance between preserving individual rights and protecting public health when it comes to vaccines, experts argued at a panel discussion at Harvard Law School on Wednesday. In the wake of the recent outbreak of measles in California, the panel emphasized the need for Americans to be more informed in their decisions for or against vaccination. While allowing an opt-out option to remain in place, the panel proposed making the opt-out process for vaccines more difficult...Panel event organizer Holly F. Lynch, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at the Law School, said the prevailing culture of maintaining polite conversation can complicate the push for vaccination. “I’m wondering if there’s a way that we can get past this politeness and really get down to brass tax of what people are doing when they refuse to vaccinate their kids,” Lynch said. “There’s this challenge between respecting people’s decisions, but calling them on it when their decisions may be underinformed in some way.”