August 8, 2002
Model State Emergency Health Powers Act Discussed in JAMA
Faculty from the Center for Law and the Public’s Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Georgetown University discuss the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act in the August 7, 2002, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The Model Act was drafted as a resource to assist states in their review of existing public health laws, to ensure they have the necessary powers to detect and contain potentially catastrophic public health emergencies resulting from bioterrorism or naturally occurring infectious disease. The Model Act also offers procedures for safeguarding individual rights and interests in the event of a public health emergency. States can choose to adopt all or part of the Model Act depending on their needs.
The Model Act reflects five basic public health functions to be facilitated by law.
- Preparedness. Comprehensive planning for a public health emergency
- Surveillance. Measures to detect and track public health emergencies
- Management of property. Ensuring adequate availability of vaccines, medicines, and hospitals as well as providing power to abate hazards to the public’s health
- Protection of persons. Powers to compel vaccination, testing, treatment, isolation, and quarantine when clearly needed
- Communication. Providing clear and authoritative information to the public
The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act was drafted in October 2001 by the Center for the Law and the Public’s Health at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To date, 34 states have introduced measures based on the Model Act.
“The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, Planning for and Responding to Bioterrorism and Naturally Occurring Infectious Diseases” was written by Lawrence O. Gostin, JD; Jason W. Sapsin, JD; Stephen P. Teret, JD, MPH; Scott Burris, JD; Julie Samia Mair, JD, MPH; James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM; and Jon S. Vernick, JD, MPH.