The turning point Model State Public Health Act

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Date: Winter 2003
From: Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics(Vol. 31, Issue 4)
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,866 words

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The Model State Public Health Act (MSPHA) represents a more than 2-year extensive effort by a broad range of public health experts to offer states a tool for reform of public health law. The MSPHA is intended as a checklist of modern public powers and model language for states to consider as they review their own laws. In this Appendix, JLME is reproducing the Prefatory Notes and Table of Contents. The complete MSPHA is available for download at


Lawrence O. Gostin, J.D., LL.D. (Hon.) James G. Hodge, Jr., J.D., LLM.

The Turning Point Public Health Statute Modernization National Collaborative is a partnership comprised of representatives from five states, nine national organizations and government agencies, and experts in specialty areas of public health. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Collaborative's mission is to transform and strengthen the legal framework for the public health system through a collaborative process to develop a model state public health law.

Through intensive research and consensus building among national, tribal, state, and local public health representatives, the MODEL STATE PUBLIC HEALTH ACT (hereinafter "Act") presents a comprehensive, model state law that sets forth statutory language on public health administration and practice for consideration by existing public health agencies at the state and local levels.

The Act's provisions reflect modern constitutional, statutory, and case-based law at the national and state levels, as well as current scientific and ethical principles underlying modern public health practice. It presents a template and checklist of issues for public health law reform. As such, the Act does not represent a mandate to states considering public health law reform, nor are its provisions intended to be adopted without adaptation or edition in any state.

The Act is divided into nine (9) Articles with various Sections [see Table of Contents below]. Consistent with recent findings front the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in The Future of the Public's Health in the Twenty-First Century (2002), the Act adopts a systematic approach to the implementation of public health responsibilities and authorities. It focuses on the organization and provision of essential public health services and functions based on their definition in Public Health in America. (1)

The Act presents a broad mission for state and local public health agencies to be carried out in collaboration with various public and private actors within the public health system. Much of the substance of the Act concerns traditional powers of state or local public health agencies (e.g., contagious disease control, nuisance abatement, and inspections). These powers are articulated within a framework of modern jurisprudence and public health science that balances the protection of the public's health with respect for the rights of individuals and groups. For a summary of the scope of the Act, please see the discussion of its organizational content below.

Though comprehensive, the scope of the Act is limited in the following ways:

* The Act does not cover some distinct areas of law despite their strong public health...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A113051826