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Robert Greenwald

  • Palantir’s pandemic contracts stir concern ahead of IPO

    July 23, 2020

    The private data mining company Palantir is best known for its work with law enforcement agencies, like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local police departments, the intelligence community and the Department of Defense. It has received considerable criticism for helping the Trump administration track immigrants. But in recent months and with the debut of its stock on public markets approaching, Palantir has a new focus: tracking the fast-spreading coronavirus. According to U.S. procurement records reviewed by NBC News, Palantir has been awarded contracts worth more than $42 million with federal agencies on the pandemic response. That includes two contracts in April worth $24.9 million with the Department of Health and Human Services to build a new platform, HHS Protect, which will aid the White House coronavirus task force's efforts to track the spread of the virus. HHS awarded Palantir an additional $2 million in May...In April, Palantir’s president, Shyam Sankar, called the pandemic the new “driving thrust” of the company. Robert Greenwald, a professor and the director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, said that turning to a firm known for its work in deportation will discourage immigrants from getting the health care they need. “Companies like Palantir have made their choices and they have gone in a direction that does not make them appropriate for sensitive public health projects,” Greenwald said.

  • INSIGHT: Just When It’s Most Critical, Republicans Seek End of Affordable Care Act

    April 23, 2020

    An article by Robert Greenwald and Will Dobbs-Allsopp '20Even in the midst of the worst domestic crisis in over a century, the White House and Republican state officials still want the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in a case set for review later this year. It’s a baffling decision given the circumstances: amid escalating health-care needs, increased strain on our health systems, rising rates of uninsured, and an impending recession, the ACA offers policymakers critical tools that can help steer the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic. Because many Americans receive health insurance through their employer—itself a vestige of an earlier crisis—a pink slip frequently also entails a loss of health insurance coverage. In recent weeks, the Department of Labor has reported record-shattering unemployment insurance claims, more than 22 million to date. One analysis predicts that the number of employees losing health coverage will grow to between 12 million and 35 million by the crisis’s end.”

  • Don’t repeat the mistakes of 1918

    April 17, 2020

    An article by Carol Rose and Robert Greenwald: During the 1918 influenza pandemic, local governments in the United States placed special placards on the doors of homes where sick people were subject to quarantine. The measure was an attempt to contain the spread of a virus that ultimately killed nearly 700,000 people in the United States alone. Sadly, this well-intentioned move backfired: Many doctors chose not to report cases in order to prevent homes from being quarantined. Families of sick people sought to evade the stigma of a placard on their homes by not seeking medical attention. In light of today’s coronavirus crisis, it’s useful to recall this history and to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Yet in an executive order dated March 18, the administration of Governor Charlie Baker directed local boards of health to submit to first responders the home addresses of people who have tested positive for the virus. The idea is that police, fire services, and EMTs should know which homes have COVID-19 cases so that responders can adequately protect themselves. Protecting the health of first responders is certainly an important priority that the state needs to address; however, some public health experts have noted that disclosing addresses does not ensure a first responder would be safe from exposure from asymptomatic people or from those who are infected but remain untested. It may seem counterintuitive, but this order could indeed do more harm than good.

  • Screen shot of an online meeting with professor and a male and female student

    HLS clinics and students fight for the most vulnerable amid COVID-19

    April 11, 2020

    For the Clinical Program at Harvard Law School, the past weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a time to mobilize. As the clinics have moved to working remotely, their work has continued with new urgency.

  • Health departments are sending police the addresses of people who have coronavirus

    April 9, 2020

    In a growing number of cities and states, local governments are collecting the addresses of people who test positive for the coronavirus and sharing the lists with police and first responders...But some public health experts and privacy advocates have raised concerns about police departments maintaining a list of addresses of confirmed coronavirus cases. They say that it could make people reluctant to seek medical care or get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, because of a fear of profiling by law enforcement. "With any infectious disease, there's going to be stigma and discrimination about who has it," Robert Greenwald, a professor and the director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, said. "If you're in a situation now where the word starts to get out that if you get screened then your address goes on a list that goes to first responders, it discourages screening for people who don't want to be on this list." Greenwald and three other public health experts also questioned the usefulness of a list of addresses with confirmed cases, noting that since the coronavirus has spread so widely, first responders ought to assume anyone they encounter could be infected. Still, police officials and officers said this information is a helpful reminder to exercise extra caution in the field, beyond the usual safety measures.

  • Tested positive for coronavirus? Health workers may share your address with police

    April 8, 2020

    In a growing number of cities and states, local governments are collecting the addresses of people who test positive for the coronavirus and sharing the lists with police and first responders. Law enforcement officials say this information sharing — which is underway in Massachusetts, Alabama and Florida, and in select areas of North Carolina — will help keep officers and EMTs safe as they respond to calls at the homes of people who have been infected. The first responders can take additional precautions in those cases to avoid being exposed to the virus, state health departments and local police officials say...But some public health experts and privacy advocates have raised concerns about police departments maintaining a list of addresses of confirmed coronavirus cases. They say that it could make people reluctant to seek medical care or get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, because of a fear of profiling by law enforcement. "With any infectious disease, there's going to be stigma and discrimination about who has it," Robert Greenwald, a professor and the director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, said. "If you're in a situation now where the word starts to get out that if you get screened then your address goes on a list that goes to first responders, it discourages screening for people who don't want to be on this list."

  • Addresses of coronavirus-positive residents handed over to police in some states

    April 2, 2020

    Alabama and Massachusetts health officials are sharing with law enforcement the addresses of people diagnosed with new coronavirus so emergency responders can be properly prepared when answering 911 calls involving those who have tested positive. The personal information is limited to the addresses of people who have known COVID-19 cases, and is only provided to first responders, such as police officers, according to the respective laws...But the order has received opposition from a number of people, such as Robert Greenwald, faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School. Greenwald wrote a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker on March 20, in which he called the emergency order "misguided" and said it would "undermine both individual and public health." "Our first responders must treat everyone as if they potentially have COVID-19 and use universal precautions on all calls," he wrote. "Relying on information provided by state health officials is not helpful. There will be no effective 'list' as the overwhelming majority of people who are infected with COVID-19 do not know it. And sadly, over time, more than half the addresses in our state will likely end up on the list."

  • Portrait of Robert Greenwald seated in an armchair

    A Q&A with Robert Greenwald on ‘getting to zero’ and the success of PEPFAR, 15 years later

    October 22, 2019

    Clinical Professor Robert Greenwald discusses PEPFAR’s impact at home in the United States, policy barriers to "getting to zero," and ways to address the epidemic head-on.

  • Battle over Affordable Care Act resurfaces

    April 9, 2019

    Legal and political battles have put the fate of the Affordable Care Act, and health care for millions of Americans, back into the spotlight and ensure that that it will play a pivotal role in the 2020 elections. ... Robert Greenwald, JD, faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, concurred with Goodwin on the consequences of the ACA repeal. “If the lower court’s decision is affirmed, it would topple the entire ACA, including provisions entirely unrelated to the individual mandate such as the expansion of the Medicaid program. This would do untold damage to our health care system. It would leave over 20 million additional people uninsured,” he said in an interview.

  • People in Puerto Rico Can’t Get the Same Hepatitis C Meds as Other American Citizens Do

    January 3, 2019

    Drugs that can cure hepatitis C revolutionized care for millions of Americans living with the deadly liver infection. The drugs came with a steep price tag—one that prompted state Medicaid programs to initially limit access to the medications to only the sickest patients. That eased, however, in many states as new drugs were introduced and the prices declined. But not in Puerto Rico: Medicaid patients in the American territory get no coverage for these drugs. ... “You know, we do not deny lung cancer treatment for a person who smokes or diabetes treatment to a person that doesn't eat well,” says Robert Greenwald, a professor at Harvard Law School and faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.

  • Obamacare architect: Dire consequences for Massachusetts

    December 17, 2018

    The architect of Obamacare warned the Affordable Care Act could die if the U.S. Supreme Court backs a ruling by a Texas judge calling the law unconstitutional — a decision that would force Massachusetts to strip coverage or pay astronomical bills. ...  Robert Greenwald, director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, said nothing will change immediately as a result of the decision by the Texas judge that found the law to be unconstitutional and invalid . “This is certainly not the final word on the Affordable Care Act,” Greenwald said. “Obviously it’s going to be appealed, it’s going to be a long slog on this and other challenges to the ACA.”

  • 25 Harvard Law Profs Sign NYT Op-Ed Demanding Senate Reject Kavanaugh

    October 4, 2018

    Roughly two dozen Harvard Law School professors have signed a New York Times editorial arguing that the United States Senate should not confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Harvard affiliates — including former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and Laurence Tribe — joined more than 1,000 law professors across the country in signing the editorial, published online Wednesday. The professors wrote that Kavanaugh displayed a lack of “impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land” in the heated testimony he gave during a nationally televised hearing held Sept. 27 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee....As of late Wednesday, the letter had been signed by the following: Sabi Ardalan, Christopher T. Bavitz, Elizabeth Bartholet, Christine Desan, Susan H. Farbstein, Nancy Gertner, Robert Greenwald, Michael Gregory, Janet Halley, Jon Hanson, Adriaan Lanni, Bruce H. Mann, Frank Michelman, Martha Minow, Robert H. Mnookin, Intisar Rabb, Daphna Renan, David L. Shapiro, Joseph William Singer, Carol S. Steiker, Matthew C. Stephenson, Laurence Tribe, Lucie White, Alex Whiting, Jonathan Zittrain

  • Courts Force States to Provide Costly Hep C Treatment

    September 25, 2018

    A series of recent court rulings and settlements, including one last week in Indiana, have found that states cannot withhold potentially life-saving but expensive medications from Medicaid beneficiaries and prison inmates who have chronic hepatitis C...“If there were a cure for breast cancer or Alzheimer’s or diabetes, people would be storming the White House to make sure those medicines were available to everyone, you can be sure of that,” said Robert Greenwald, a professor at Harvard Law School and the faculty director of the school’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation. “But we’ve responded completely differently with the cure for hepatitis C because of the stigma associated with that disease.” Greenwald and others insist that treating prisoners with hepatitis C is an indispensable step toward eradicating the disease in the whole population.

  • When Politicians Take An Interest In What’s On Your Dinner Plate

    September 11, 2018

    Half a century after Americans began fighting hunger with monthly food stamps, the nation’s physicians and policymakers are focusing more than ever on what’s on each person’s plate. In the 21st century, food is seen as medicine — and a tool to cut health care costs...“Food is medicine is an idea whose day has arrived,” said Robert Greenwald, faculty director of the Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, one of the experts who testified in January at the launch of the congressional Food is Medicine Working Group, part of the House Hunger Caucus.

  • Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates

    July 18, 2018

    With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans, including, odds are, many readers of this story. The companies are tracking your race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth. They’re collecting what you post on social media, whether you’re behind on your bills, what you order online. Then they feed this information into complicated computer algorithms that spit out predictions about how much your health care could cost them...Robert Greenwald, faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, said insurance companies still cherry-pick, but now they’re subtler. The center analyzes health insurance plans to see if they discriminate. He said insurers will do things like failing to include enough information about which drugs a plan covers — which pushes sick people who need specific medications elsewhere. Or they may change the things a plan covers, or how much a patient has to pay for a type of care, after a patient has enrolled. Or, Greenwald added, they might exclude or limit certain types of providers from their networks — like those who have skill caring for patients with HIV or hepatitis C.

  • Rx: Zucchini, brown rice, turkey soup

    July 10, 2018

    ...“It’s taken awhile for the concept to catch on that medically tailored meals are more than just food or a meal but high-tech specialty health care service for people living with complex medical needs,” said Robert Greenwald, faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.

  • Experts say lawsuit challenging Affordable Care Act could kill it

    June 25, 2018

    Attempts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act have taken a new turn. Nearly two dozen states or their governors have filed a lawsuit against the United States government, HHS, IRS and several others claiming that Congressional action that lowered the tax on those who did not comply with the individual mandate to buy insurance voids the Affordable Care Act. The new lawsuit, known as Texas v. the United States (2018), has some experts and medical societies concerned about its ramifications...Robert Greenwald: “The state plaintiffs and the administration have taken somewhat different positions in this case. The states are asserting that repeal of the individual mandate necessitates a repeal of the ACA in its entirety. The administration has agreed with the states, but only in so far as to assert that the guaranteed issue and community rating provisions must be overturned as a result of Congressional changes to the individual mandate. If either of these assertions prevails, then the scope of health care would change,” he said in an interview.

  • Health care largely ‘wins’ in latest budget deal, analysts, medical societies say

    February 13, 2018

    Health care policy analysts and medical societies are applauding the budget agreement signed last week by President Donald Trump, citing financial support in several critical areas...Robert Greenwald, JD, clinical professor of law and faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, told Healio Family Medicine, “Now that an agreement has been reached, certain vital health programs are safe for the time being. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers over 9 million children, is funded until 2027 and Community Health Centers, which serve the health needs of our nation’s most vulnerable, are funded for the next two years. Going forward, we must continue to prioritize programs that promote and secure the health of U.S individuals and families.”

  • Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase to form new health care company for employees

    January 31, 2018

    Amazon, along with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, will form an independent health care company for their employees in the United States, the three companies have announced. Amazon, along with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, will form an independent health care company for their employees in the United States, the three companies have announced...In a statement emailed to Healio.com, Robert Greenwald, faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and professor at Harvard Law School, said the venture pointed to a systemic issue with American health care. “We have failed as a nation to produce a health care delivery system that affords comprehensive health coverage to everybody, Greenwald wrote.

  • Study: Montana program fails hepatitis C patients

    January 26, 2018

    Montana’s Medicaid program requirements are blocking hepatitis C patients from treatment, according to a national report released Thursday...Robert Greenwald, clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School and the director of the school’s health law center, agreed that the state’s rules around patient sobriety is “medically unfounded” and said it puts others at risk. “Even though the opioid crisis is exacerbating the hepatitis C epidemic, Montana is preventing patients who have used drugs in the past six months, the population most likely to spread this highly communicable disease, from accessing a cure,” Greenwald said.

  • Medicaid Program Under Siege

    January 18, 2018

    An op-ed by Robert Greenwald and Judith Solomon. For more than 50 years, Medicaid has been our nation’s health care safety net. Medicaid allows our lowest-income, sickest, and often most vulnerable populations to get care and treatment, and supports the health of more than 68 million Americans today. As an entitlement program, Medicaid grows to meet demand: There is no such thing as a waiting list. This vital health program found itself under fire in 2017, and while there were no major reductions in funding or enrollment, it is far from safe in 2018. Whether by new legislation or actions the Trump administration may take, the threats to Medicaid are not going away anytime soon.

  • Commentary: The hidden health crisis of the opioid epidemic

    December 8, 2017

    An op-ed by Robert Greenwald and Ryan Clary. The American epidemic of opioid abuse is finally getting the attention it warrants. While policy solutions continue to be inadequate, the decision by President Trump to declare a national opioid emergency has helped to increase discussion about the problem and how the country can solve it. But the conversation also needs to address a dangerous – and largely ignored – interconnected public health crisis wreaking havoc among young Americans.

  • Report: State Medicaid Programs Illegally Restrict Access To Hep C Drugs

    November 16, 2016

    State Medicaid programs – including Rhode Island – fail to provide enough access to cures for hepatitis C. That’s the conclusion of a new report from Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable. The authors say restricting treatment is illegal. New hepatitis C medications are expensive. That’s why state Medicaid programs like Rhode Island’s restrict access. Patients must have a high level of liver damage. And be abstinent from drugs and alcohol. And only specialists can prescribe. All of that is illegal, says Robert Greenwald with the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School. “Medicaid programs have an obligation under the law to provide medically necessary care. And that cost alone cannot be a justification for access to care.”

  • State Medicaid programs continue to restrict access to hepatitis C drugs

    November 15, 2016

    Over the past two years, state Medicaid programs have done a better job of disclosing information about access to hepatitis C medicines and are also making progress in reducing or eliminating restrictions that pose a barrier to treatment, according to a new preliminary analysis...“We’re making progress, but many state Medicaid programs still limit access due to cost concerns and are dragging their feet,” said Robert Greenwald, who heads the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School, which conducted the analysis and has filed lawsuits against two state programs over restrictions.

  • A Two-Way Street

    November 3, 2016

    ...In one way or another, Harvard Law professors helped shape Obama’s legacy. But the relationship between the Law School and the next president has yet to be defined. A trove of emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, leaked by Wikileaks in October, show that a few Law professors have caught the campaign’s attention. And Clinton’s campaign has contacted at least one about serving in her administration if she wins next Tuesday. There is no indication that Trump’s campaign has contacted any Law professors. “I think law is about policy choices so by definition we are always involved in policy choices,” Law professor Christine A. Desan said, referring to her fellow faculty members...fewer Law School faculty members are actively and openly advising either candidate in this election—a noticeable shift from previous elections, said Law Professor and former U.S. Solicitor General Charles Fried.

  • AFC, Harvard Law file federal complaint against Humana

    September 7, 2016

    AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ), on Sept. 6, filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights ( OCR ) against Humana, charging that the insurance giant routinely denies coverage for or limits access to HIV medications through prohibitively high cost sharing requirements. AFC filed the complaint in partnership with Harvard Law School's Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation ( CHLPI ), which has partnered with a number of health organizations for complaints against insurance companies in other states. According to the complaint, Humana offers policies on the Affordable Care Act marketplace but regularly refuses to cover lifesaving medications and requires significant cost-sharing from patients with certain conditions such as HIV. Insurance companies on the marketplace cannot refuse to exclude policyholders because of pre-existing conditions..."CHLPI and AFC are using the OCR process to shine a light on discrimination occurring under the cloak of supposedly neutral insurance plan benefit design. When an insurer requires chronically ill patients to pay a disproportionate share of the cost of medication, it violates federal law," said Robert Greenwald, CHLPI's faculty director and clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School. "These are landmark Complaints that will benefit everyone looking to receive equitable, comprehensive health care through the marketplaces by helping to define anti-discrimination law at a time when insurers are covering less and less."

  • Health Law and Policy Center launches advocacy campaign for people living with HIV

    September 6, 2016

    The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) is undertaking a new advocacy campaign to enforce the health care rights guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for people living with HIV and other chronic conditions.

  • A cure for hepatitis C, if not for the cost

    August 8, 2016

    ...Within the past three years, new drugs with cure rates surpassing 90 percent have come on the market that have dramatically changed the conversation for hepatitis C patients like Cox. The results are like nothing doctors had seen before: patients’ bodies being effectively rid of the virus within just a few months, rather than living with it for decades. But the drugs’ exorbitant prices keep them out of reach for lots of people...“I don’t want to impute bad motives on the part of insurers,” said Robert Greenwald, a clinical law professor at Harvard Law School and faculty director of its Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, “but I do think they feel more comfortable than they should about basically condemning a population and many people within that population to sickness, ill health and ultimately, for some, death, for having these kinds of restrictions.”

  • Wider access to hepatitis C drugs is humane and pragmatic

    August 2, 2016

    The long-term health prospects for thousands of Massachusetts residents are about to improve. As of Monday, MassHealth will require private insurers that manage coverage for two-thirds of the state Medicaid plan’s members to loosen rules that cruelly prevent people infected with hepatitis C from receiving drugs that cure the disease...Massachusetts’ limits on hepatitis C medicines have been at odds with US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ policy, which mandates that Medicaid insurance plans cover the new drugs. MassHealth also has faced scrutiny from health care advocates, who note that the disease is especially prevalent among lower-income residents who don’t have other treatment options, or who are reluctant to seek preventive medical care. “We’re dealing with a population that has a history of exclusion and distrust of the health care system,” says Robert Greenwald, director of Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, and a prominent critic of limits on hepatitis C coverage.

  • After insurer changed policy, he’s saying goodbye to hepatitis C

    June 10, 2016

    John Tortelli recently received some good news: The virus that has lurked in his body for nearly four decades, threatening to destroy his liver, can no longer be detected in his blood. Tortelli, a 64-year-old retiree who lives in Arlington, contracted hepatitis C as a young man, from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. Over the years, the virus has led to fatigue, joint aches, mental fogginess — and continual worry that the infection might progress to cirrhosis, as happens to 5 to 20 percent of infected people...The advocates’ position got a big boost last month when a federal District Court judge in Seattle ordered Medicaid in Washington state to start covering the drugs regardless of the condition of the patient’s liver. A few days later, Florida — also facing a suit — adopted a similar policy change....Robert Greenwald, the Harvard Law School professor who sued Washington state, said he sent an e-mail to MassHealth director Daniel Tsai on Thursday, advising that Medicaid rules clearly require coverage. Asked whether he planned to sue Massachusetts, Greenwald said, “I’m not there yet. I have been assured they are working as quickly as they can.” But Greenwald, who directs Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, said if the state’s process “does not result in access mandated under law,” he will reconsider taking legal action.

  • New Medi-Cal rules ease access to hepatitis C drugs

    June 6, 2016

    California’s revised eligibility rules for hepatitis C drugs appear to be easing Medi-Cal patients’ access to the highly effective medications, according to state data. Yet even with the relaxed guidelines, the vast majority of those on Medi-Cal with hepatitis C still aren't getting the costly drugs, state health officials say..."A really large state took a bold move and really reduced the restrictions, and that was a great first step toward sending the message that, 'we understand how important it is to provide treatment access to people living with [hepatitis C],'" says Robert Greenwald, director of Harvard Law School's Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.

  • How sick must hepatitis C patients be to get help?

    May 24, 2016

    Two years ago, James Luongo was thrilled to hear about the first new drugs that could rid his body of hepatitis C. The virus had been silently circulating in his blood for years and would likely cause liver disease, perhaps cancer. But he still felt fine. The drugs seemed like a good thing until his Medicaid insurer denied coverage of the treatment. Twice...And they hope, critics say, that they can get away with neglecting a stigmatized population. Hepatitis C can strike anyone - more than one percent of the U.S. population is infected - but is more frequent among low-income people who have injected drugs. "A disenfranchised, vulnerable community was one where they could draw the line," said Robert Greenwald, a Harvard law professor and coauthor of a study last year that found most states were rationing hepatitis C treatment. "A person with Alzheimer's on Medicaid would have family who would not tolerate not getting the cure," he said, if one became available.

  • Hepatitis Illustration Price of Life

    The Price of Life

    May 4, 2016

    There is now a cure for Hepatitis C. But in some states, Medicaid won’t pay for it until patients become seriously and irrevocably ill. Harvard Law’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation is trying to change that—through research, advocacy and litigation.

  • There are hepatitis C drugs, but patients often can’t get them

    April 19, 2016

    Patients infected with hepatitis C are finding that having private health insurance doesn’t always mean they can get the drugs likely to cure them. ...The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School analyzed plans sold on the Massachusetts Health Connector, the state agency for people who buy insurance on their own, most of whom have moderate to low incomes. The center found that in nearly half the plans, patients had to pay a higher percentage of the cost for hepatitis C drugs than for most other drugs. Some insurers require patients to pay half the cost.

  • Don’t deny hepatitis C patients a cure

    April 14, 2016

    How do you justify withholding a wonder drug from patients infected with a liver-killing virus until the disease starts to ravage their bodies? Why, in other words, do they have to become seriously ill before receiving help? Although biomedical advances have given rise to a new class of drugs that can cure hepatitis C, which is often fatal, a basic socioeconomic problem remains to be solved: Because of the high cost of the medicine, many public and private health insurers restrict access to treatment until the onset of liver damage. It’s a short-sighted approach that causes suffering and is at odds with a basic tenet of modern medicine — early intervention...“If there was a cure for Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis and we restricted treatment, there would be a huge outcry,” says Robert Greenwald, director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School.

  • Hepatitis C drug costs leave many without care

    April 11, 2016

    Twenty years ago, Larry Day learned two dangerous viruses were circulating in his body, HIV and hepatitis C. Both infections came from needles shared during his years as an injecting drug user. Only one caused him big problems: hepatitis C. That virus destroyed his kidneys, an uncommon complication. Over time, he knew, hepatitis C could lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. So when drugs came on the market promising to cure him, Day — by then free of illicit drugs — was eager to give them a try. But his Medicaid insurance plan said no. He could get the drugs only if his liver was damaged, and his liver was still in good shape...Robert Greenwald, faculty director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, in February led a class-action lawsuit against the state of Washington, asserting its Medicaid program was illegally rationing hepatitis C drugs. In Massachusetts, he has written MassHealth officials asking to collaborate on ways to make the drugs more available. But state officials have rebuffed him, because, he said, they don’t want to admit “that it’s all about costs....They know that’s not a legitimate grounds on which to deny people treatment.” Greenwald called the state’s approach baffling. The state, he said, pays $10,000 a year to keep a person with HIV healthy for decades, but balks at a one-time $40,000 payment to cure someone of hepatitis C.

  • Harvard Law clinic files amicus brief defending employees’ access to no cost preventive health care

    February 18, 2016

    Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell, an Affordable Care Act (ACA) challenge set for argument on March 26. The brief asks the Court to affirm Court of Appeals’ decisions upholding the federal policy of maintaining access to free preventive care, including contraceptive services, in employer-sponsored health plans.

  • Summit convenes future leaders in the emerging field of food law and policy

    December 11, 2015

    Participants in a recent gathering at Harvard Law School are hoping to spark the growth of a nationwide student network for making significant contributions to the emerging field of food law and policy.

  • Federal Officials Warn States on Hepatitis C Drug Restrictions

    November 6, 2015

    In a sign of growing government interest in rising prescription-drug costs, federal officials on Thursday said state Medicaid programs may be violating federal law by denying patients expensive hepatitis C medications. They also asked drug makers to provide information on their pricing arrangements with health insurers, which officials said could help ease the financial burden on state budgets...Patient advocates praised CMS’s guidance to states, which they said would help increase the availability of treatments for patients. Robert Greenwald, director of Harvard University’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, said in an email that his group “applauds CMS for clearly articulating that restricting access to HCV treatments solely on the basis of cost and using medically unjustifiable criteria is unacceptable.”

  • How insurance providers deny hepatitis C patients life-saving drugs

    October 16, 2015

    ...Rojas is one of an estimated 3.2 million Americans with hepatitis C, an infection that attacks the liver. In the United States, hepatitis C kills more people every year than HIV. Drugs like Harvoni promise to cure more than 90 percent of patients, yet many insurance providers only authorize treatment if a patient has extensive liver damage, or a “fibrosis score” of three or four...Some of these policies are on shaky legal ground, according to Robert Greenwald, director of Harvard Law School's Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Cambridge, Massachusetts. For example, Greenwald believes some state Medicaid programs are violating federal Medicaid law with excessive hepatitis C prior-authorization rules. In addition, private insurance companies are violating their own contracts, which promise to provide “medically necessary” services to covered patients. “They are completely abrogating their obligation to provide these services in hepatitis C solely based on cost,” Greenwald said.

  • Greenwald analyzes the government’s updated national HIV/AIDS strategy

    September 22, 2015

    Robert Greenwald, director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and a clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School, has co-authored an editorial with David Holtgrave, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, on the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) from the federal government.

  • Wider Reach Is Sought for Costly New Hepatitis C Treatments

    August 25, 2015

    Federal and state Medicaid officials should widen access to prescription drugs that could cure tens of thousands of people with hepatitis C, including medications that can cost up to $1,000 a pill, health care experts have told the White House. The experts, from the Public Health Service and President Obama’s Advisory Council on H.I.V./AIDS, said that restrictions on the drugs imposed by many states were inconsistent with sound medical practice, as reflected in treatment guidelines issued by health care professionals and the Department of Veterans Affairs. ...But Robert L. Greenwald, an expert on health law and policy at Harvard Law School, said: “These criteria defy clinical guidelines and best practices. Rather than recommending the exclusion of people who inject drugs, we should encourage earlier treatment as a way to prevent transmission of the virus.”

  • Hepatitis C reports 
only ‘tip of iceberg’

    July 6, 2015

    The spread of hepatitis C could be grossly underreported, with fewer than 1 percent of cases reported to federal public health officials, while tens of thousands could be undetected, according to researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital who say the growing opioid crisis is 
fueling the problem....Another study out this week, co-authored by Robert Greenwald, director of Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy, focused on the difficulty addicts have obtaining Medicaid coverage for costly medications. A highly effective drug, Sovaldi by Gilead, costs about $84,000 for a 12-week course. “We are seeing a decrease in cost of treatments, and haven’t seen a commensurate lessening of coverage restrictions,” Greenwald said. Under some programs within MassHealth, patients must be sober for at least six months — which cuts many addicts out of treatment.

  • Is Medicaid Denying a Life-Saving Cure Based on Cost?

    July 1, 2015

    A new study has found that the majority of state-run Medicaid programs are creating formidable barriers to patients with the potentially deadly Hepatitis C virus from being treated with new wonder drugs that can cost as much as $1,000 a pill. The joint study by researchers from Harvard Law School, Brown University’s Department of Medicine, Rhode Island’s Miriam Hospital, and the Kirby Institute of Australia was published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine...Robert Greenwald, a professor at the Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy and a co-author of the study, said that he began the research with the idea there were restrictions in place but that he didn’t anticipate the breadth of these restrictions. “I think there is evidence that they are rationing based on cost,” Greenwald said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that “the sad reality” is that states are withholding treatment to many despite receiving rebates or discounts from the drug manufacturers of 23 percent or more.

  • State restrictions for hepatitis C drug may go too far

    July 1, 2015

    State-run insurance programs for the poor may be putting up illegal barriers that prevent people with hepatitis C from getting a new treatment, a new study suggests. "We had this idea that there were restrictions in place, but we didn't anticipate the breadth of these restrictions," said study author Robert Greenwald of the Center for Health Law and Policy at Harvard Law School in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

  • CHLPI study finds life-threatening barriers in access to breakthrough Hepatitis C drugs

    June 30, 2015

    A team of researchers from Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Brown University's Department of Medicine, Rhode Island’s Miriam Hospital, Treatment Action Group, and Kirby Institute of Australia, has released findings from a nationwide study of Medicaid policies for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV), which affects over 3 million Americans.

  • CHLPI launches campaign to promote federal law and policy reforms for type 2 diabetes

    June 4, 2015

    On May 19, the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) launched a campaign to promote federal law and policy reforms for type 2 diabetes prevention and management as part of CHLPI’s broader, multi-phase Providing Access to Healthy Solutions (PATHS) initiative that first worked to strengthen local and state policy to address diet-related health conditions.