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, 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 Department of Health and Human Services, which is seeking guidance on a federal rule change.
Tovino was also on the planning committee for the Health Care Disparities in Nevada Symposium held in April 2014 at the Boyd School of Law's Thomas & Mack Moot Court. The event brought together physicians, lawyers, and experts from a variety of fields to share research and knowledge on health care disparities seen in a variety of populations, including Alzheimer's patients, Latino construction workers, the elderly, and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, among many others.
"It was a great introductory event," she said. "And I'm excited to work with them again at the UNLV and UNSOM Interprofessional Health Equity Symposium."
The symposium will be held at the UNLV School of Medicine on Oct. 10, 2014. For more information, visit the UNLV and UNSOM Interprofessional Health Equity Symposium registration page.