April Moreno
Program Director
University of Houston Law Center
Health Law & Policy Institute
100 Law Center
Houston, Texas 77204-6060
(713) 743-2101
E-mail: healthlaw@uh.edu

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Health Law & Policy Institute


CaduceusTHE UH LAW CENTER OFFERS ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE health law curricula in the country, with more than 30 courses. The UH Law Center also has recognized strengths in the complementary fields of intellectual property, environmental law, international law, business/transactional law, trial advocacy, and other areas. Students are permitted to enroll in relevant courses offered by other graduate programs at UH, The University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health, and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Core health law classes are taught by full-time Institute faculty members
with national and international reputations. The curriculum is enriched by successful practicing attorneys who serve as adjunct professors, adding a different perspective to the topics they teach. The following is a list of recent health law offerings. Not all classes are offered every year, and offerings are subject to change.

ADVANCED HEALTH LAW provides LL.M. students an opportunity to survey selected topics and develop and present their own research projects. This course is limited to, and required for, LL.M. students.

BIOTECHNOLOGY AND THE LAW explores the impact of biotechnology on specific areas of law and business. Topics include intellectual property and its exploitation, regulatory affairs, human subject research, privacy concerns, and public policy issues.

CHILDREN'S RIGHTS offers students a broad view of children and the law, including health-related topics. The course covers such areas as abuse and neglect; sexual abuse; special education; children's disabilities; medical decision-making; health, safety, and welfare regulations affecting children; and government entitlement programs.

COMPARATIVE HEALTH LAW examines, in a comparative context, the right to health care and its implementation; the rights of patients in relationship to health care professionals and institutions; a patient's right to self-determination and competing considerations; and the rights of the individual and the interests of society.

DIRECTED RESEARCH gives students an opportunity to earn academic credit for participating in an ongoing research project under the supervision of a full-time faculty member. Students learn appropriate research techniques, explore developing issues in health law and policy, and have an opportunity to work under the direction of the Institute's distinguished faculty.

DISABILITIES AND THE LAW addresses legal issues affecting persons with disabilities, including education, employment, architectural barriers, transportation, public accommodations, public services, housing, and access to health care.

E-HEALTH LAW SEMINAR examines regulatory approaches to new technology (including telemedicine, cybermedicine, and medical privacy) by state legislatures, health care provider licensing boards, and federal agencies. It also examines efforts by the American Medical Association, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and other organizations to address e-health issues.

ELDER LAW explores financial and end-of-life planning for the elderly, including the use of trusts, wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney; examines the role of the guardian and attorney ad litem; analyzes the role of Medicare and Medicaid; and considers the legal aspects of home health, assisted living, and nursing home alternatives for senior citizen care.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS LAW explores the laws regulating broad-based employer-provided deferred compensation, including traditional defined benefit pension plans and the various defined contribution plans, and welfare benefits, such as health and life insurance. The course emphasizes the applicable tax and labor laws (particularly ERISA) that govern employee benefits, but also takes into account public policy considerations.

FOOD AND DRUG LAW deals with the federal government's attempts to protect the public health and individual welfare in the development and marketing of foods, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics. The course focuses on the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, with particular emphasis on the regulation of drugs, nutritional supplements, and medical devices.

FORENSIC MEDICINE addresses current social issues that affect both legal and medical principles and practice. This course requires students to explore issues that demand greater collaborative interaction between law and medicine as the early 21st century presents new challenges to society's health and welfare. In addition, the course provides students with an understanding of how to use forensic medical evidence and experts in their law practice and litigation.

FRAUD AND ABUSE examines federal and state laws imposing criminal and civil penalties on health care providers for a variety of fraudulent activities. The course explores the implications of the federal Anti-Kickback statute, civil monetary penalty and exclusion laws, anti-referral (Stark) laws, and false claim laws, as well as other criminal laws applicable to health care.

GENETICS AND THE LAW examines new developments in genetics tied to the Human Genome Project, including issues involving reproduction, access to health care, discrimination, privacy, forensics, and gene therapy.

HEALTH LAW SURVEY: INTRODUCTION TO HEALTH LAW is a basic survey course that covers a wide range of important issues in health law, including physician-patient relations, access to health care, informed consent to medical treatment, basic medical malpractice suits against physicians, and bioethics in healthcare (e.g., end-of-life issues, surrogate parenthood, and assisted reproduction). This course has no health law prerequisites and is open to all upper-division law students. It is suitable as an elective for students who do not intend to make a career in health law and as a first taste of health law for students who are trying to assess whether health law is right for them.

HEALTH CARE FINANCING, ORGANIZATION & QUALITY is an upper-division law course exploring the organization and financing of the U.S. healthcare industry and how the quality of health care is regulated. The course surveys U.S. healthcare financing such as Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance and managed care organizations. The focus of this course is on healthcare institutions (hospitals, nursing homes, insurers and managed care organizations) rather than on the individual physician-patient relationship. The course examines legal and regulatory mechanisms for ensuring the quality of health care, including licensing, accreditation, certification, tort suits against healthcare institutions, and the impact of federal laws such as ERISA that may preempt such suits.

HEALTH LAW EXTERNSHIP gives students the opportunity to gain experience in the health law field through placements in nonprofit or governmental agencies, such as a hospital general counsel's office/risk management department or a nonprofit advocacy group. The clinic requires completion of a classroom educational component.

HEALTH LAW TRANSACTIONS explores the application of federal and state regulatory principles to health care transactions. Students gain exposure to the document drafting and review aspects of typical health care transactions. This course assumes general familiarity with issues discussed in Health Law Survey: Access, Regulation, and Enterprise, such as the corporate practice of medicine doctrine, antitrust, and fraud and abuse.

HEALTH LEGISLATION focuses on state legislation, but also addresses issues relating to federal legislation, city codes, and regulations. The course includes coverage of legislative and regulatory drafting, as well as the procedural and political process of getting legislation passed and regulations implemented.

HEALTH PRIVACY examines the health information privacy standards that implement the Administrative Simplification provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as well as state health information privacy laws and regulations.

HIV AND THE LAW explores the legal implications of HIV infection for public health policy, education, employment, insurance, health care, and criminal law.

INDEPENDENT RESEARCH AND WRITING gives students the opportunity to study subjects reflective of their own interests and concerns, culminating in the preparation of a research paper that students are encouraged to publish. Students pursue their research projects under the supervision of full-time faculty members (or other faculty, with the permission of the Associate Dean).

INSURANCE LAW examines the regulation of insurance contracts and insurance companies, including underwriting regulation, doctrines of contract interpretation, claims-processing regulation, solvency regulation, and special remedies for breach. The course covers both the property/casualty and life/health "sides" of the insurance industry, with an emphasis on policy issues and economics.

INTERSESSION COURSE showcases a distinguished professor who teaches a health law course to our J.D. and LL.M. students during our intersession in early January. Classes meet on a highly condensed schedule, allowing students to earn two course credits in the two-week intersession. Recent visitors include: Professor Timothy Caulfield, University of Alberta (International Biotechnology Policy); Professor Larry Gostin, Georgetown (Advanced Public Health Law & Ethics); Professor Russell Korobkin, University of California - Los Angeles (Current Topics in Health Care); Professor Frances Miller, Boston University School of Law (The Basics of Food & Drug Law); Professor Colleen M. Flood (Comparative Health Policy), and Professor David Orentlicher, Indiana University School of Law (A Century of Health Care Reform).

LAW AND PSYCHIATRY is a study of current topics in law and psychiatry, including civil commitment, right to treatment, right to refuse treatment, competency to stand trial, the insanity defense, and the psychiatrist's role in the sentencing process.

LAW, ETHICS & BRAIN POLICY covers legal and ethical aspects of brain injury (mental disorders, competency, and criminal responsibility), brain treatments (stem cell, psychosurgery, electroconvulsive therapy), brain imaging (permanently unconscious patients, lie detection), brain death policies, and the emerging field of neuroethics and law.

LEGAL ASPECTS OF BIOETHICS examines the legal, ethical, and policy aspects of current controversies in bioethics. Topics include privacy and confidentiality, terminal care decisions, patients' rights to refuse treatment, organ donation and transplantation, and experimentation involving human subjects.

LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE addresses federal and state regulation of the life and health insurance industry. The health insurance component addresses the major federal regulatory statutes (ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA) as well as state initiatives.

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LITIGATION is a broad-based study of malpractice law and policy, including the effect of malpractice on health care access, quality, and cost; legal doctrine; and legislative reforms.

MEDICARE provides an overview of the Medicare program with a focus on structural, coverage, and reimbursement issues. Other topics include the history of the program, efforts to expand the availability of managed care options for Medicare beneficiaries, fraud and abuse issues, and the solvency and structure of the program.

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN CRIMINAL LAW addresses mental health issues that arise in criminal law, including: mental competency and forced medication of incompetent defendants, diminished capacity, insanity, specialized mental health defenses, mental retardation, the various ways that mental and emotional issues are used as mitigation in sentencing, intoxication and substance abuse issues, mental competency to be executed, and the use of anti-social personality disorder in aggravation during the punishment phase.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY is a general survey of the field. The course emphasizes the recent changes in products liability jurisprudence that demonstrate concern for injuries caused by drugs and other toxic exposures posing significant health risks to the public.

PUBLIC HEALTH LAW SEMINAR provides an overview of basic public health principles and the governing law. The course examines the legal basis for public health regulation and explores the tensions among public health activities, civil liberties, property rights, and other significant interests. The course also examines current policy issues, including immunization, bioterrorism, forced medical treatment, disease reporting and surveillance, infectious disease control, and tobacco regulation.

REGULATION OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH SEMINAR reviews the history of biomedical and behavioral research with human subjects, the work of past and present government commissions charged with the protection of human research subjects, the legal and administrative regulation of human subject research, and ethical issues presented by human subject research.

REGULATION OF HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS explores the regulatory environment affecting physicians and other health care professionals, including licensing, staff privileges, and peer review.

RURAL HEALTH LAW focuses on how health policy, laws, and regulations impact health care services in rural communities. The course addresses traditional health law topics such as the corporate practice of medicine, Medicare fraud and abuse, antitrust, and similar laws and regulations as they apply to rural health care providers.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE SEMINAR offers an overview of topics in scientific evidence with a focus on mass and toxic torts. The primary impetus for the seminar is the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and the application of the case and its progeny to a range of claims in which scientific evidence plays a key role.

WOMEN AND HEALTH LAW SEMINAR examines the gender implications of the health care system. Gender issues arise in many contexts, including reproductive rights, confidentiality and informed consent, health care financing, insurance, and criminal law.