- After residents’ access to Texas care is threatened, New Mexico passes law making clear that care given in other states is subject to those states’ laws, not N.M.’s [Texas Alliance for Patient Access, earlier]
- Shkreli notwithstanding, “the big news about generic drugs is good news. Generic drug prices are falling” [Alex Tabarrok]
- Party of Science? Bernie Sanders has steered federal backing to alternative medicine [Skeptical Raptor]
- “There is no problem so bad that government-imposed remedies cannot make it worse, spawn new problems or both.” For instance: crackdown on opiates [Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune/syndicated; related upcoming April 29 Cato event with Jeffrey Miron, David Murray, and Tim Lynch]
- Struggle against “sanism” might push egalitarianism too far, or maybe it’s a natural [Scott Greenfield on Michael Perlin program at National Association for Public Defense]
- Once again — how many times does this make? — malpractice reform proposals in U.S. Congress run aground for failure to anticipate federalist objections [The Hill, ABA Journal, Dean Clancy, my 2011 take]
Lawyers wield an array of coercive powers against third parties, as well as looking after the entrusted interests of often unsophisticated parties and clients. And the goal of accommodating lawyers and aspiring lawyers who suffer from mental illness must be balanced against the “threat” their condition will sometimes pose to clients and the public — at least that’s what the president of the Florida Bar says. With language like that, it’s no surprise his bar appears to be on a collision course with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) enforcement efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice. [ABA Journal]
More: Scott Greenfield wonders who’s looking out for clients’ interests.
- More on effort to blame federal budget cuts for Ebola [Chris Edwards chart at Cato; Nick Gillespie, Reason; Michael Tanner, earlier] How Firestone, rare multinational firm with a large presence in Liberia, fought the disease [NPR] More: Heck of a job, Nicole: administration already has Ebola czar [Mollie Hemingway]
- Train wreck postponed: “Administration Delays Home-Care Worker Minimum-Wage, Overtime Protections” [Kaiser Health News, earlier here, here, etc.; California will not delay]
- “Should it be OK to fire employee for using medical marijuana?” [Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle/syndicated, and thanks for quote; Jacob Sullum on Colorado “any lawful activity” statute]
- Venture capital interest dwindles in cardiac and orthopedic medical device sectors amid concerns over regulatory hassle, tax, reimbursement problems [WSJ (also Avalon), Arnold Kling]
- Billing code for “repeat doctor visit after being sucked into jet engine” probably little-used [Lowering the Bar, and surprise sequel]
- British ambulance workers’ strike will hit scheduled patient visits rather than emergencies, so that’s okay [BBC]
- Does Takings Clause, in combination with unconstitutional-conditions doctrine, require feds to compensate hospitals for EMTALA emergency-treatment mandate? [Haavi Morreim, Regulation, PDF] EMTALA, disability discrimination, and claimed “dumping” of psychiatric patients [Alison Somin on Gail Heriot dissent]
- “Report: Government warnings about antidepressants may have led to more suicide attempts” [Washington Post]
- Celebrity doc known for touting diet-health snake oil told off by Senators known for touting socio-economic snake oil [NBC, Business Week]
- Physicians’ prescription of drugs off-label may “seem odd to the uninitiated, but it is called the practice of medicine, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with [it].” [Steven Boranian/D&DLaw, Sidley, Steve McConnell/D&DLaw (False Claims Act angle, with much background on that law generally)]
- “23andMe Closer to FDA Approval” [Matthew Feeney/Cato, earlier]
- FDA guidance could foreclose most use of tweets, Google ads and other character-limited vehicles in pharmaceutical promotion [Jeffrey Wasserstein/FDA Law Blog, Elizabeth N. Brown/Reason]
- Average wholesale price (AWP) litigation: “Pennsylvania High Court Joins Judicial Stampede That’s Trampling State Attorneys-General/Plaintiffs’ Bar Alliances” [WLF, Beck, earlier]
- California infant’s death opens window on lucrative (for some prescribers) intersection of workers’ comp and compounded pharmaceuticals [Southern California Public Radio]
“The Texas Supreme Court overturned a $362,000 disability discrimination judgment awarded to a captain for the City of Houston fire department who was removed from firefighting duties because his fear of entering burning buildings made him a danger to himself and others. City of Houston v. Proler, No. 12-1006 (Tex. June 6, 2014). According to the court, no reasonable jury could have found that his fear of entering burning buildings constituted a disability under the ADA or Texas law.” However, the court based its decision on the state of the law before Congress drastically widened ADA eligibility in 2009, so it’s not clear how such a case might come out if filed today. [Kevin Cox, Kollman & Saucier, P.A.; Eric B. Meyer]
- John McGinnis: As information technology disrupts the legal profession, will lawyers’ clout decline? [City Journal]
- Law schools, especially of the more leftward persuasion, collecting millions of dollars in cy pres lawsuit diversions [Derek Muller]
- Who’s still defending embattled medical examiner Steven Hayne? Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood, for one [Radley Balko, earlier here, here, here]
- Life in America will become more drab if Campaign for Safe Cosmetics gets its way [Jeffrey Tucker via @cathyreisenwitz, earlier on “CPSIA for soap”]
- LSAT settled with DoJ demands re: disabled accommodation back in 2002 and again just now, and the differences between the two settlements tell a story [Daniel Fisher, earlier] Some prospective students will be losers [Derek Muller]
- “‘Swoop and Squat’: Staged car accidents, insurance fraud rise in L.A.” [Los Angeles Times]
- Toughen duty for California psychiatrists to inform on dangerous patients? Awaiting backfire in three, two, one… [Scott Greenfield]
Client protection be damned: “Asking would-be lawyers standard questions about their mental health, including their history of diagnosis and treatment, could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice.” [ABA Journal]
This fairly gripping New York Times account by reporter Serge Kovaleski gives the backstory of the horrendous Navy Yard massacre — a contract employee with a security clearance had been displaying increasingly florid symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, yet was not taken off his job — but is missing one angle I was curious about:
On Aug. 9, the director of human resources for the Experts spoke to Mr. Alexis’ mother, who told the director of his previous paranoid behavior, the person with knowledge of the investigation said. His mother told the director that Mr. Alexis’ paranoia tended to subside with time, but that “he likely needed to see a therapist.”
That same day, the director convened a meeting of “senior-level personnel” at the Experts who concluded that he could be sent back to work. The Hewlett-Packard investigation found that the Experts did not attempt to get Mr. Alexis to seek mental health care, a finding that the Experts has not disputed.
…In an e-mail message, the Experts said that a Hewlett-Packard manager in Newport said she was “comfortable” having Mr. Alexis come back to work after he reported hearing voices.
Hewlett-Packard said its manager in Newport was a low-level employee who was not given full details by the Experts about Mr. Alexis’ problems. The company said it has placed that manager on administrative leave.
The missing angle is: what if any role was played by the legal constraints on the various entities that directly or indirectly employed Mr. Alexis? Severe mental illness is a protected condition under the ADA, and employers may not be free to take workers off their duties unless and until they can assemble evidence that would stand up in court documenting a “direct threat,” “undue hardship” or other adequate reason for removal; the law places limits on the employer’s right to demand medical exams to evaluate the exact contours of disability; and privacy rules limit sharing of medically relevant information between different entities, as we saw in the Seung-Hui Cho/Virginia Tech case. All these rules apply to ordinary larger private businesses, but some come in especially stringent form when applied to federal contractors.
Did any of these legal doctrines influence the course of decision-making by which Mr. Alexis received oddly hands-off treatment even as his mental state spun out of control? One hopes a future NYT article will return to take a look at those questions.
Starting in the 1960s a wave of foundation-backed lawsuits (Wyatt v. Stickney, etc.) resulted in the closure or drastic shrinkage of most larger state mental health facilities, with the hope that patients would benefit instead from more humane and decentralized “community-based care.” I have decidedly mixed feelings about the results of that episode: the old system inflicted abuses and deprivation of freedom that cried out for oversight and reform, but the new system has handed a great deal of power to unaccountable litigators managing consent decrees in pursuit of their own, sometimes quite debatable, view of clients’ and society’s best interest. Among the roads not taken: strengthening the inspectorate concept, which places oversight authority in a class of appointees intended to be independent of the care institutions but answerable to judges, elected officials, or both. I’m quoted at length on these issues in Neil Maghami’s new Capital Research Center profile of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, a key funder of the suits.