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April Moreno
Program Director
University of Houston Law Center
Health Law & Policy Institute
4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
(713) 743-2101
E-mail: healthlaw@uh.edu

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Health Law & Policy Institute

Seth Chandler

HEALTH LAW COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

The University of Houston Law Center offers one of the largest and most comprehensive health law curricula in the country. Coursework in the related fields of intellectual property, environmental law, international law, business/transactional law, trial advocacy, and other areas complements the health law curriculum. Students may 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. Faculty members with national and international reputations teach core health law classes and successful practicing attorneys serve as adjunct professors, ensuring that UH law students learn from leading experts in the field.

The following is a list of previously-offered health law courses. Not all classes are offered every year, and offerings are subject to change.

ADVANCED HEALTH LAW provides students an opportunity to survey selected topics and develop and present their own research projects. The small-group setting allows for in-depth discussion and feedback.

BIOTECHNOLOGY AND THE LAW is a practice-oriented survey of major regulatory frameworks for commercializing new biotechnology products and protecting consumers and workers from the risks these products pose.

COMPARATIVE HEALTH LAW analyzes foreign health care systems, as compared to health care delivery in the United States. Students will acquaint themselves with cutting-edge issues in health law from an international and comparative point of view.

DISABILITIES AND THE LAW examines the rights of people with disabilities in the American legal system. Topics covered include constitutional protections for people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and other federal statutes. We will also discuss the social meaning of disability and the American disability rights movement.

E-HEALTH Writing Course introduces students to 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.

EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION focuses on employment discrimination law and theory, more specifically, on federal antidiscrimination statutes prohibiting discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability.

ERISA provides a basic overview of ERISA’s regulatory scheme. To place the law in context, students learn the original goals of ERISA, ERISA’s evolution over the past forty years, and the politics behind ERISA and its broad preemption provisions.

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. Foundational Issues in Health Law: Patient, Provider, Society and Law introduces students to basic legal and theoretical concepts related to the study of health law.  Major topics include bioethical theories and their relevance to the law, medical malpractice, and the role of the courts in defining and applying standards of care. 

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 surveys the role of genetic information in diverse areas of the law.  Topics include an introduction to foundational concepts in genetic science, the commercialization of genetic material through biopatents, the role of genetic information and genetic testing in family law, the admissibility and reliability of DNA evidence in criminal cases, privacy concerns related to genetic testing, and discrimination on the basis of genetic information.

HEALTH CARE COMPLIANCE examines health care compliace programs and the laws, regulations, and federal guidance attendant thereto, including OIG rules and federal agency enforcement actions. This course will explore ethical considerations of building effective compliance programs, including state law implications. This course will explore how to handle both internal and external investigations, including whistle-blower actions. This course will focus on the practical implications of laws that apply to health care organizations, and how organizations help ensure adherence to relevant rules through effective compliance programs.

HEALTH CARE TRANSACTIONS provides an opportunity for students learn and apply substantive laws and lawyering skills to model health care transactions.  Working in teams of associates under the supervision of the professors, including practicing health care attorneys, students will engage in health care contract drafting, client interviews, negotiations, due diligence, and regulatory analysis.  The model health care transactions are based on deals commonly entered into by hospitals and health systems, including hospital-physician employment agreements, health care joint ventures, and acquisitions.

HEALTH INDUSTRY BASICS: PROVIDERS-INNOVATORS-REGULATORS is an introductory tour of Texas/federal laws governing health-sector businesses, which together account for 18% U.S. Gross Domestic Product.  The course covers traditional 20th-century institutions such as hospitals, but the main focus is on the expanding array of new players that supply innovative products and services (clinical laboratories; biobanks; academic medical centers, which conduct research as well as providing patient care; contract research organizations; health data exchanges; and  management and informational services). These latter entities are a vibrant and growing part of the health industry and students entering the health law workforce of today need to know the laws that affect them and the unresolved policy issues they raise.

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 externship requires completion of a classroom educational component.

HEALTH LAW RESEARCH focuses on federal and state primary legal materials related to health law, including relevant statutes, regulations, agency guidance and decisions, and case law.  Secondary sources such as treatises and practice guides specific to health law will also be discussed.
Health Legislation and Advocacy concentrates 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 LEGISLATION AND ADVOCACY explores how legal and policy considerations, intra-governmental relationships, and political dynamics influence health regulatory policies. Guest speakers include current and former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials and health care advocates.

HIPAA is designed to help students understand the HIPAA Privacy Rule, and will look at the requirements of covered entities, business associates, and subcontractors.

HOT TOPICS IN HEALTH POLICY is a writing seminar that examines immediate issues in health care finance. In the past, these have included the Affordable Care Act, issues of Medicare finance, Medicaid finance, provider compensation systems, state healthcare reforms, and treatment of disabilities.

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.

LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE addresses federal and state regulation of the life and health insurance industry. The life insurance component addresses the economics and finance of life insurance, insurable interest issues, non-forfeiture and reserve regulation, and basic tax treatment. The health insurance component will focus on the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as well as ERISA, HIPAA, COBRA and some state initiatives. Long Term Care Insurance will be briefly addressed as well.

INTERSESSION COURSES showcase distinguished professors from other institutions 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, University of Ottawa (Comparative Health Policy); Professor David Orentlicher, Indiana University School of Law (A Century of Health Care Reform); and Professor Stacey Tovino, University of Nevada Las Vegas (Mental Health Law).

LONG-TERM CARE LAW focuses on legal issues relevant to the operations of long term care providers across the continuum of care, including senior housing, assisted living, nursing facilities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and hospice and home health.  These legal issues include licensure and accreditation, quality regulation and assurance, admission and discharge policies, reimbursement, and care coordination.  The course explores issues from a policy context as well as through statutory, regulatory, and common law frameworks.

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

MENTAL HEALTH LAW examines a variety of civil and administrative issues pertaining to mental health care access, quality, liability, and finance. Particular attention will be given to federal and state mental health parity law and mandatory mental health and substance use disorder law; federal and state regulation of interventions such as restraint, seclusion, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychosurgery; federal and state laws protecting the confidentiality of mental health and substance use disorder records; state law scope of practice issues for mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, advance nurse practitioners, and counselors; state regulation of involuntary inpatient and outpatient commitment; and civil liability and/or professional discipline for negligent failure to diagnose, negligent misdiagnosis, negligent treatment, negligent referral, sexual and romantic relationships with patients, patient injury following elopement, and patient suicide.

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.

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.

THE US HEALTH SYSTEM: AN INTRO TO MANAGED CARE, TRANSACTIONS AND POLICY provides students with an understanding of how the health care system is currently organized, financed, and regulated, and explores what the health care system of tomorrow may look like. Students are introduced to the major laws and regulations that regulate health care finance and transactions, including the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare"). The first part of the course focuses on health insurance and looks at federal and state regulation of private health insurance, the public insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid, and the new health care exchanges. Students then study the business of health care and the laws that impact health care business transactions, including the tax laws governing tax-exempt organizations, the antitrust laws, and the fraud and abuse laws.

TOXIC TORTS strives to give students an overview of the law of environmental and toxic torts. It includes cases in which there is a personal injury or property damage due to exposure to toxic substances, including drugs. It combines a historic overview of the field with coverage of the current issues confronting the courts and Congress. The legal system’s response to these substances is both proactive and retroactive. Statutes such as the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) seek to prevent injury by assessing a drug’s safety before permitting it to be marketed and by regulating the handling of hazardous waste. Common law torts suits sounding in negligence, products liability, nuisance, trespass, and strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities – provide potential redress for injuries caused by toxic substances and drugs and as do statutes such as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which seeks to ensure that sites that have been contaminated are cleaned up to safe standards. This course explores both responses within the context of private tort law and statutes.