RUNNING HEAD: HEALTH CARE AND THE LAW Health Care and the Law Susan Franks HCS/545 Health Law and Ethics October 20, 2015 Richard Nordahl
HEALTH CARE AND THE LAW Health Care and the Law Health care is arguably one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States. The government oversees virtually every facet of it (Field, 2008). The volume of regulations is understandable, after all, the industry is responsible for the health and safety of the public; lives are literally at stake. Those working in health care are not so understanding of the complexity of the regulations, which causes a great deal of frustration. These intricacies are partly due to our multiple legislative layers. It is because of this complexity that legislatures create regulatory agencies. The role of these agencies will be discussed and, using two examples, the impact of the agency’s regulations on health care will be explored. The Role of Regulatory Agencies In the United States, the legislative branches of the government pass laws. These laws rarely contain enough detail to allow for their implementation because legislators lack the time and knowledge needed to do so. Often, local variations may affect particular aspects of the law; therefore, local agencies are better equipped to develop the specifics (American Nurses Association, 2015). Legislatures create administrative agencies and give them the authority to produce the specific laws in accordance to the broad mandated requirements. These regulatory agencies are also tasked with enforcement. Agencies exist on both the state and federal levels; some activities are regulated by the state while others are regulated federally. A point of contention in health care is which activities should be subject to state law as opposed to federal law (Harris, 2007). 2
HEALTH CARE AND THE LAW Texas Department of State Health Services The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) is the regulatory agency that oversees health services. According to its mission statement, “ The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) promotes optimal health for individuals and communities while providing effective health, mental health and substance abuse services to Texans” (TDSHS, 2014, para. 3). Among the numerous entities TDSHS regulates are the abortion facilities and abortion itself (Office of the Attorney General, n.d.). Example: Abortion Regulation The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right for a woman to terminate her pregnancy up to the point of viability since Roe v. Wade in 1973. After the point of fetal viability, the state may prohibit abortion, except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. Roe v. Wade also highlighted the physician’s right to practice medicine without interference from the state (Harris, 2007). In 1992, the abortion debate was tested again by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey . The court reaffirmed the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy before the point of viability.
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