Community Experiments in Public Health Law and Policy

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 43 (S1):10-14 (2015)
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Abstract

Community-level legal and policy innovations or “experiments” can be important levers to improve health. States and localities are empowered through the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution to use their police powers to protect the health and welfare of the public. Many legal and policy tools are available, including: the power to tax and spend; regulation; mandated education or disclosure of information, modifying the environment — whether built or natural ; and indirect regulation. These legal and policy interventions can be targeted to specific needs at the community level and are often relatively low-cost, but high impact interventions. As every community is different, effective laws and policies will vary. This freedom allows states and localities to, as Justice Louis Brandeis argued, truly serve as “laboratories of democracy.”

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