The judicial branch of the US system of government sees its core role in protecting the supremacy of law and civil liberties. It also includes the court’s interference in the work and development of health services organizations across the country. In this way, there are numerous roles that courts at local, state and federal levels play within the framework of the health system. These roles in their turn have a significant impact on health policy and policymaking.
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First of all, it is crucial to mention that the courts resolve public disputes connected with health care. Courts on the federal level obtain the exclusive right of advising health services organizations on some issues, while local and state courts lack this feature (Benjamin, 2018). Moreover, courts play core roles in the cases of public health emergencies such as 9/11 attacks or coronavirus pandemic, as in this way, courts might issue acts to authorize actions that aim at protecting public health (Posner, 2020). Another role of courts manifests itself in creating health equity in such spheres as racial and disability discrimination (Hall, 2017). State courts in their turn can enforce the sanitary laws and regulations to uphold a federal health standard as well as implement their policies concerning such spheres as birth control and abortion (Helfgott, 2016). Likewise, local and state courts can be useful in facilitating local and state enforcement of health and safety standards.
It is no doubt that all of these roles affect health policymaking as courts can support or refute policies that significantly influence public health (Rosenbaum, 2018). Moreover, due to their core roles, courts become instrumental in deciding on such issues as the right to withdraw self-sustaining treatment or the standard of the quality of medical drugs (Collins & Lambrew, 2019). Courts also interpret the meaning of the laws and determine their constitutionality be acting as concept providers and rights defenders.
Thus, courts of the different levels play several core roles in the context of health services organizations, which in their turn affect policymaking and health policy. Such functions include making recommendations to health services organizations, resolving public disputes concerning the health sphere, and preparing for various cases of emergency connected with public health. It is also crucial to highlight that recently the influence of courts on health policy in some areas has expanded, which means that the impact of the courts on policymaking is likely to increase further.
Benjamin, G. (2018). What Kavanaugh’s appointment to the court means for public health. Center for Health Journalism. Web.
Collins, S. R., & Lambrew, J. M. (2019). Federalism, the Affordable Care Act, and health reform in the 2020 election. Commonwealth Fund. Web.
Hall, M. A. (2017). The role of courts in shaping health equity. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 42(5), 749–770. Web.
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Helfgott, S. M. (2016). The impact of U.S. supreme court decisions on medical affairs, healthcare policy. The Rheumatologist. Web.
Posner, E. A. (2020). Public health in the balance: judicial review of pandemic-related government restrictions. Lawfare. Web.
Rosenbaum, S. (2018). Medicaid and the role of the courts. Commonwealth Fund. Web.