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The Gap Between Health Care and Law

UNLV expert says health insurance laws haven’t caught up with scientific advancements, particularly for those battling certain mental illnesses.
Business & Community  |  Oct 9, 2014  |  By UNLV News Center
(Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Some state and federal health insurance laws haven't caught up with scientific advancements, and there's a resulting health care treatment gap, particularly for those battling certain mental illnesses. Stacey Tovino, Lincy Professor of Law and Lehman Professor of Law, says it's time for a change.

Tovino will speak at the Interprofessional Health Equity Symposium at the UNLV School of Dental Medicine on 11:15 a.m., Oct. 10.

Tovino, a leading expert and international speaker on health law, bioethics and medical humanities, has published a dozen articles since 2012, many of them dealing with the rights not being afforded to the mentally ill.

In an article to be published this fall in the Tulane Law Review, Tovino highlights how many state insurance laws still don't support those with gambling addictions. While scientific research has shown gambling disorders to be a treatable mental illness, many existing state and federal laws still describe the condition as an impulse control disorder, for which coverage is either nonexistent or extremely limited by many health insurance providers.

Tovino advocates for other legal changes that affect the lives of the mentally ill. In a 2012 article addressing the federal Common Rule, which regulates human subjects research involving adults with impaired decision-making capacity, she illustrated how the law lacks coverage of protected groups such as those with neurological, psychiatric, or developmental conditions, which could also impair decision-making. Tovino is now lending her expertise to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is seeking guidance on a federal rule change.

UNLV Law, the magazine of the William S. Boyd School of Law.