The Annals of Health Law Editorial Board is pleased to present our Winter 2015 Issue.
Each year, the Editorial Board seeks out articles addressing contemporary topics
important to the health law community. The Annals of Health Law prides itself on
selecting the highest quality pieces on a variety of topics to reflect the expansive reach of
the health law field. This issue is no exception, covering a broad range of current and
intriguing issues within health law and policy, including recent developments under the
Affordable Care Act and issues related to provider scope of practice. The selected pieces
contribute to the continued recognition of the Annals of Health Law as one of the
country’s preeminent health law and policy publications.
This issue begins with an interesting discussion of current and future insurance
protections for Americans with mental health and substance use disorder afflictions.
Authors Kathleen Noonan and Stephen Boraske demonstrate that, when read together, the
Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
(MHPAEA), which ushered in a new era of protections for individuals suffering from
mental health and substance abuse disorders, and the Affordable Care Act’s essential
health benefits mandate, provide potential for expanded enforcement rights for those
individuals. The authors argue that the current enforcement regime is ineffective and
propose standardization of essential health benefit definitions coupled with certification
and monitoring of quality health plans offered in the Marketplaces as a viable solution to
otherwise insurmountable enforcement obstacles.
In our second article, authors Ann Davis, Stephanie Radix, James Cawley, Roderick
Hooker, and Carson Walker take an in-depth look at the controversy surrounding
physician assistant scope of practice in the United States. The article begins with a
considered discussion of the history of physician assistant practice including a description
of the legal and medical communities’ unwillingness to recognize the benefits of
increased physician assistant utilization, including marked increases in both access to,
and quality of, care in both general and specialized medical fields. After an examination
of the development of medical practice regulations that expand many healthcare
professionals’ scopes of practice to tasks previously restricted to physicians, the authors
identify the physician assistant profession as a workforce innovation ripe for increased
integration into the PA-physician team in the future of healthcare.
Our concluding article asserts that the traditional mechanisms used to create
accountability in the public health insurance arena will be inadequate to ensure that the
health insurance Marketplaces comply with federal laws and regulations. Author Sarah
Grusin posits that, while the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has
traditionally been responsible for the implementation of such programs, HHS is unlikely
to enforce federal laws necessary to ensure appropriate regulation of the Marketplaces.
Ms. Grusin focuses instead on the right to private enforcement of individual rights within
the Marketplace through structural reform litigation. After navigating through the often
over-looked rise of structural reform litigation in shaping Medicaid and health law as a