Course Catalog

Drug Policy and Public Health Strategies Clinic (4/4)

The course examines a range of public health and civil rights strategies to assist persons with histories of drug and alcohol dependence gain access to health care and fight discrimination based on their disability. Students will work primarily on projects designed to ensure access to health care through Medicaid and private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Students will (1) educate consumers and treatment providers about the key provisions of the ACA; (2) represent clients who have problems enrolling in public or private insurance or accessing drug treatment services; and (3) evaluate and recommend policy changes to improve Marylandís implementation of the ACA and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act on behalf of consumers with alcohol and drug problems. Individual and organizational clients are from Baltimore and surrounding counties, and the policy work has a state-wide focus. Students will have an opportunity to collaborate with health care advocates, treatment providers, community-based organizations and inspirational persons involved in recovery and treatment.

The Drug Policy Clinic offers a unique opportunity to be involved in individual client representation, public policy development and advocacy relating to the implementation of the ACA in Maryland. While the Clinic focuses on assisting persons with substance use and mental health problems, clinic students will gain broad exposure to health care delivery and financing as well as insurance practices. Students will also work with other advocates to shape Maryland's health care reform to better serve low income and underserved individuals. As ACA implementation enters its second year, we expect to participate in a range of projects that will translate our clientsí on-the-ground experiences into proposals to improve Marylandís implementation of the law.

Students will gain substantial experience in interpreting and applying statutory and regulatory standards under Medicaid, the ACA and disability discrimination standards. They will also gain an understanding of insurance practices and health care financing and delivery and interact with the Stateís administrative agencies that regulate Medicaid and health insurance. Students will also gain experience in fact investigation; interviewing clients, persons in recovery, and treatment providers; drafting a wide range of documents including legal memos, legislative advocacy materials, analyses of statutes/regulations, client letters, fact investigation outlines and demand letters; oral advocacy with government agencies and other policymakers; presentation of legal standards to non-lawyers in a range of settings; and coalition building and team work.

Examples of the legal work students have performed in the past year

  • Develop a and present a 90-minute "ACA 101" training for treatment providers throughout the Baltimore area
  • Create a variety of educational materials on the Affordable Care Act for consumers and providers
  • Design and implement a statewide survey of treatment providers to gather information related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Maryland
  • Provide brief advice to consumers and treatment providers about health services available under Medicaid and private health insurance and assist in resolving individual questions and problems, including issues related to Medicaid fraud, healthcare access after incarceration, and the effect of Medicaid expansion on substance use disorder treatment.
  • Evaluate all health plans offered on Maryland Health Connection for compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and file formal complaints with carriers to achieve compliance and enforce consumer protections.
  • Monitor and develop strategic responses to a variety of bills during the 2014 General Assembly Session, including emergency legislation providing coverage to consumers who were unable to enroll through Maryland's flawed health reform website, efforts to discriminate against the siting of treatment programs, and legislation merging state behavioral health agencies.
  • Work in coalition with consumer advocates to improve the Stateís implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including leading efforts to protect consumer appeal rights.
  • In previous years, students also performed significant legislative work in Annapolis. They drafted bills, amendments and advocacy documents and met with legislators to advocate for legislation related to Marylandís health care reform implementation, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and overdose response initiatives.

    The weekly classroom seminar will explore health law theory and will expose students to a range of legal strategies that practitioners use to address legal problems. Because of the complexity of the legal standards governing federal and State health reform efforts, the seminar component of the course will be particularly intensive during the first six weeks of the fall semester. Over the course of the first semester, students will develop a sophisticated understanding of the statutory and regulatory reforms affecting individual consumers since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

    Students who are in the law and health program may receive credit toward the Law and Health Certificate and all slots are eligible for Cardin. This Clinic is a full-year clinic. Ten students may enroll.

    Current & Previous Instructors:
    Ellen Weber;

    543D (CRN: 96535)       Credits: 4
        Fall, 2015 (Day).
        Tues: 3:15-5:15  
        Room 300A/B.
    543D (CRN: 25879)       Credits: 4
        Spring, 2016 (Day).
        Mon: 3:15-5:15  
        Room 402.
        5 enrolled. Limit: 8 continuing. Faculty permission required to add or drop.

    Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
    P: Prerequisite
    C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
    R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course

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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2015, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved