Solomon Center Tackles Pressing COVID-19 Legal and Health Issues


As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, faculty, staff, and students from the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy  immediately got to work. Since mid-March, members of the Solomon Center have been working on many areas of COVID-related health and legal policy, including easing restrictions to telehealth; expanding health care access to students now home from universities; and opposing executive orders that have restricted access to abortion during the pandemic. They are also putting forth important ideas for improving federal legislation and working in New Haven through innovative Medical Legal Partnerships to deliver on-the-ground assistance.

Abbe R. Gluck ’00, faculty director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy, is part of a team of experts building a blueprint for federal legal assistance and coronavirus legislation. The group also includes Yale Law School student and Solomon Center Student Fellow Erica Turret ’20  and Solomon Center affiliated faculty Dr. Howard Forman, a Yale University professor of public health, radiology, and management, who coordinated the working group’s effort. The group outlined their plan in a commentary on Health Affairs. The blueprint was also cited in a New Yorker article, titled "What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?

On the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Professor Gluck and Erica Turret wrote a commentary for Health Affairs about how much worse the COVID-19 pandemic would be if we did not have the protections and coverage of the ACA.

The Center’s Medical Legal Partnerships have been actively working with physician partners to protect the populations they serve in a number of ways, including:

-      Working with the Transitions Clinic Medical Legal Partnership for formerly incarcerated individuals, the Center has advocated with the Governor’s office and other Connecticut officials to safely thin the density of Connecticut’s incarcerated population. In a recent letter, the group argues that mass infection in the prisons will overwhelm the state’s hospitals, affecting the entire state’s public health. They urged: “Connecticut has days, not weeks, to chart a different future. Under current conditions, in which there is no cure and no widespread testing, the thousands of Connecticut residents who live and work in correctional facilities are simply unable to practice the most effective method of prevention: social distancing. To create the requisite spacing of 6 feet between individuals, the State must rapidly decrease the density of its prisons, jails, and halfway houses.” With colleagues, Professor Gluck also co-wrote an commentary in the CT Post about how COVID-19 threatens to overrun Connecticut’s jails and prisons.

-     HAVEN Medical Legal Partnership students have worked in collaboration with New Haven Legal Aid Association to assist in advocacy efforts for detained immigrants, including filing emergency applications for medical release.

-     Pediatric MLP students have worked with Connecticut Center for Children’s Advocacy to compile and update a Benefits Resource Guides.

On the academic side, the Center recently held a “lawyering through Covid-19” special seminar for students and alums with Mark Barnes ’84, chair of the Ropes & Gray Healthcare Practice, and FDA expert Dr. Aaron Kesselheim.

Professor Gluck, together with Yale Law Professor David Schleicher, has also organized a weekly faculty workshop exploring the multitude of ways that COVID-19 intersects with virtually every area of law, from tax law, health law, immigration law, federalism, criminal justice, and much more.

Additional News Clips:

On April 13, Professor Gluck wrote a commentary in the Washington Post with Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, titled “What happens when our insurance is tied to our jobs, and our jobs vanish?”

Professor Gluck is quoted in a Bloomberg Law article about President Trump’s choice not to reopen the Affordable Care Act exchanges to allow uninsured Americans to purchase health-care coverage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Blake Shultz ’21, a J.D./M.D. candidate and student fellow of the Center, has cowritten an op/ed for the Hartford Courant about COVID-19 spread in Connecticut prisons.

Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Medicine, Bioethics, and the Law Dr. Joseph Fins has an essay for the Hastings Bioethics Forum titled “Disabusing the Disability Critique of the New York State Task Force Report on Ventilator Allocation.”

Professor Gluck and the general counsels for three major health care systems wrote a commentary for the New York Times about the effect a Supreme Court decision terminating DACA would have on hospitals during the pandemic.

Blake Shultz ’21, a J.D./M.D. candidate and student fellow of the Center, and Evan Walker-Wells ’21 have a commentary in the Stamford Advocate about student health insurance coverage during the pandemic.

Katherine Kraschel, Executive Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law & Policy, Erica Turret ’20,  Blake Shultz ’21, and Sara Tannenbaum M.D. wrote a commentary for Health Affairs about abortion rights during the pandemic.

Professor Nina A. Kohn, YLS visiting professor for Spring 2020, authored an opinion piece in The Hill about addressing the COVID-19 crisis in longterm care facilities. 

On April 29, Professor Nina A. Kohn, YLS visiting professor, spoke at the African American Policy Forum's virtual panel series Under the Blacklight, in an episode exploring "COVID in Confinement"

Professor Gluck was quoted in a Washington Post article on federalism and the state-level response to the COVID crisis.

On May 2 Professor Gluck spoke at a "virtual march" organized by NeedMasksToday, bringing together experts from across Yale, politicians, and more than 1000 people online to demand adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline medical workers. The march and Professor Gluck's remarks were featured in a New Haven Register article

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