Public Health Management and the Law

Joan Densberger, J.D., LL.M., MPH, Attorney at Law | Adjunct Associate Professor of Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights, BUSPH

Live Online 1.5 Hours Each Begins June 5, 2023 Registration Closed

Registration for this program is closed.

Program Description

What does law have to do with public health?  Everything!  It is difficult to overstate the extent to which law affects our everyday work in the field of public health.  The law touches every aspect of health care and public health programs, whether it is a federal and/or state law or regulation, or an obligation which has been agreed to in a contract and that requires performance.  This program consists of 5 workshops. Each workshop will explore basic concepts of law that apply to and are encountered in different areas of health care and public health positions.  The discussion will be practice-oriented to help attendees gain an understanding of how to work with the law in their public health positions.

Workshop One: Contracts in Healthcare

Why is it important to know some basic law about contracts?  Suppose you are asked to work on a provider network agreement, or an affiliation agreement with another health care organization, or you have been asked to work on a grant application.  What will you need to know to give meaningful input into the contracting process?  You may be asked to negotiate contracts with health care providers, managed care organizations, health insurers, and many other entities, or your attorney may email you a draft contract and ask you to comment on it.  As managers typically will be involved in contract negotiation and performance of the contractual obligations, a basic understanding of the legal concepts that apply to health care contracts and contract management is essential.  Failing to perform a contractual obligation can result in a breach of the contract and result in legal liability.  In this workshop, we will cover basic legal aspects of contract formation and negotiation, and contract performance, and also when you need to get a lawyer for legal advice.

Workshop Two: Healthcare Licensure

What is “licensure” and why do we require it in our health care systems?  What does licensure accomplish?  What bodies have authority over health care licensure?  Why is it critical to maintain licensure once it has been granted?  Licensure is the process that gives a facility the authority to offer and perform certain health care services, or a provider, such as a nurse or physician, the legal approval to operate within the scope of their professional training and expertise.  Professional licensure is a vital safeguard for the public, particularly in healthcare.  Each State has licensure regulations that set forth administrative procedures for applying for specific types of health care licenses (facility and provider), maintaining licensure, and for disciplinary action that will ensue for licensure violations.  In this workshop, we will look at the requirements for licensure of health care facilities and individual providers under State law and will consider what licensure requirements are intended to accomplish in terms of public health goals.

Workshop Three: Privacy and Public Health Surveillance

One of the most sensitive areas of health care, in terms of legal protections, is in dealing with patient privacy.  In public health, these issues surface in many ways in surveillance methodology and data sharing.  The value of accurate and reliable information on which to formulate public health policy and carry out public health regulations, such as mandated reporting laws, competes with personal autonomy and privacy.  Consideration will be given to when personal information is necessary for public health purposes and what constitutes sufficient legal justification for surveillance measures to be used in the name of public health, and how such information can be shared responsibly.  We will also talk about the privacy standards under the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and consider the civil and criminal penalties that can be assessed for breaches of information security and confidentiality.

Workshop Four: Professional Negligence

Patient care providers can be held accountable in different ways for violating the professional standards of care that result in patient harm: administrative disciplinary action under State authorities, civil liability for negligence, and even criminal liability. Each form of legal liability is different in terms of the source of law and procedurally in application.  This workshop will focus on the law of negligence:  what this legal concept means, how is a negligence action commenced, the elements of negligence that must be proved, and how those elements are established in a case.   It is essential to know the basic legal framework and principles in this type of legal proceeding so that the health care provider has a basic understanding of how these actions arise, how they are carried out, and how an attorney may conduct their defense.

Workshop Five: Access to Care

A number of laws have expanded access to health care in the United States over the past years.  Beginning with the landmark legislation in the 1960’s that created the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and, more recently, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law has played a massive role in broadening access to care.  A significant portion of gross patient service revenue of private hospital systems comes from reimbursement by Medicare, the largest public healthcare program (in terms of funding, expenditures, and beneficiaries) in the United States.  In order for most hospitals to survive financially in today’s competitive healthcare environment, they need to participate in the Medicare program. This workshop will cover the legal framework and healthcare benefit structure under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and discuss the Medicare Conditions of Participation and how they operate, as a matter of law, to achieve broader public health goals.


Upon completing this program, participants will be able to:

  • Negotiate organizational health care contracts more effectively in having a basic understanding of legal requirements and possible ramifications of contractual approaches;
  • Manage patient data more effectively in having a basic understanding of the legal framework for conducting public health surveillance programs;
  • Interface with and implement public health programs more effectively with a basic understanding of the regulatory requirements;
  • Manage professional and health care system liability exposure more effectively such as by adopting and enforcing corporate compliance programs.

Required knowledge/pre-requisites


Discounts available for three or more full-price workshop registrations.

Single workshop discounts also available—visit our FAQs page to learn more.

Program Details

Live Online 1.5 Hours Each Begins June 5, 2023 Registration Closed

1. Monday, June 5, 2023 | 12:30-2:00pm
2. Monday, June 12, 2023 | 12:30-2:00pm
3. Monday, June 19, 2023 | 12:30-2:00pm
4. Monday, June 26, 2023 | 12:30-2:00pm
5. Monday, July 10, 2023 | 12:30-2:00pm