197792 International Health Regulations, Informational Privacy Law, and Federalism

Monday, November 9, 2009: 4:45 PM

Jean C. O'Connor, JD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Management, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
In 2006, the U.S. ratified the revised International Health Regulations (IHR), a treaty intended to prevent and control the international spread of disease, with a reservation for federalism. Under the U.S. Constitution, all powers not specifically reserved to the federal government, such as the power to regulate interstate commerce and international relations, are reserved to the states, such as the police power to regulate and protect the public's health. States, therefore, conduct most of the public health surveillance activities necessary for compliance with the IHR. There is significant variation across states in public health laws and practices related to surveillance that may affect compliance with the IHR.

This presentation will describe a study assessing whether one type of laws, state public health privacy laws, are a barrier to the sharing of public health information. Qualitative interviews were conducted with key federal officials and state public health leaders and privacy officers and a point-in-time 50-state legal analysis of informational privacy laws was conducted. Preliminary analysis suggests that federal officials see a strong need for more timely and complete sharing of certain types of health information between state and federal officials but that state officials and the state law analysis suggest that barriers to that sharing may exist. The study findings suggest the need for the development of a national framework to govern the protection of the privacy of public health information while allowing for the appropriate use of that information for compliance with the IHR and other public health purposes.

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2) Describe the U.S. reservation for federalism 3) Explain the status of informational privacy laws 4) Assess the need for a national framework for the protection of privacy of public health information 5) Assess the use of information for compliance with the IHR.

Keywords: Health Law, Privacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a DrPH candidate at UNC-CH writing a dissertation related to state public health privacy laws. In addition, I hold a JD and MPH and I teach public health law at Emory University. I have been working in public health law and policy for 10 years and have previously presented at APHA.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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