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Cross Cutting : Public Health Law

CSTE deals with legislative issues around surveillance policy, defining research vs. practice, the impact of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) on data sharing agreements, and other topics of interest to CSTE members.

Identifiable health data are the lifeblood of public health surveillance and other activities. Their use is essential to effective public health activities and public health research. Public health authorities at all levels of government seek increasingly greater types and volume of personally-identifiable health information, including through data exchanges between public health entities. Too often, however, acquisition and use of identifiable health information through existing public health databases are restricted or limited due to privacy norms or other policies. Public health authorities may be reticent to share identifiable health data with others, even for legitimate public health purposes, because of concerns over individual privacy or legal interpretations of privacy laws. As a result, public health entities in varying jurisdictions may lack access to available health data to conduct essential services and research.

Past public health law subcommittee activities include assessments on and discussions of the impact of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) on surveillance, the HIPAA privacy rule concerning CDC’s Biosense program, input on the National Integrated Public Health Surveillance Systems and Reportable Conditions Act, and defining public health practice vs. research.

For more information about CSTE’s public health law activities, please contact Meri Phillips. Click here to view other Cross Cutting Steering Committee activities.
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