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health law

TU Law welcomes new faculty expert in Indian and health law

This summer, The University of Tulsa College of Law will welcome Aila Hoss as a new assistant professor of law. Hoss is currently a visiting assistant professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where she leads courses on property, food and drug law, health policy and opioid epidemic policy. At TU Law, Hoss will focus her teaching on Indian law, legislation and property.

We wanted to get to know our new colleague better and introduce her to the TU community, so we conducted a short question-and-answer conversation with Hoss.

Indian law is an important element in your career. What drew you to this field?

I attended the University of Oregon School of Law, which has a nationally ranked environmental law program. While there, it became apparent to me that environmental issues resonated most with me when discussed in the context of population health. With this new awareness, I began to explore public health law as a potential career. I interned with a small obesity prevention nonprofit during my first summer of law school.

While working as an intern, I learned about health inequalities facing American Indian and Alaska Native populations. This led me to take classes in federal Indian law and tribal law. I was fortunate enough to be at a law school that offered these courses, but even more fortunate that tribal leaders, attorneys and judges from the area served as guest speakers.

What are some of the major projects you have worked on in Indian law?

Alongside tribal partners, I have served as a faculty member of a course focused on working effectively with tribal governments. This two-day course was available to state, federal and local agencies working on public health issues in Indian country. I have also developed a variety of resources on tribal emergency preparedness law to support tribes and their partners when navigating emerging issues, such as Zika, Ebola and natural disasters.

Professor Aila Hoss sitting on a bench in the summertimeWhat are you presently focusing on in this area?

I am currently collecting and analyzing state laws that support or require consultation or engagement with tribes. There are a variety of models to support tribal-state engagement but lots of opportunity for improvement. Analysis of state legal requirements may facilitate intergovernmental partnerships.

Thinking about Indian law broadly, what are some of the major currents today that warrant exploration by law students and professors?

Continued challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act are something advocates, practitioners and scholars have been watching closely and need to continue to do. The law is essential for keeping connections between Indian children and their tribes, but these challenges are also a product of a larger movement to undermine tribal sovereignty and the unique status of tribes.

You also have expertise in health law. Would you tell us about some of your work in this area?

I practiced public health law as an attorney with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While with the CDC, I provided legal research support to tribal, state and local governments as they sought to improve public health within their communities. For example, a jurisdiction might have high rates of vaccine-preventable diseases and would reach out to us to learn about how laws could improve vaccination rates in the case of health care workers or school vaccination requirements.

Law, however, can also be a barrier to public health. An example would be laws that criminalize substance use disorder. Sometimes, it is not always clear what the impacts of a law are on health, which is why public health research is so important.

Are there any intersections between health and Indian law?

Absolutely! In fact, the tribal leaders who guest-lectured at my law school about their experiences promoting and protecting tribal sovereignty in their communities inspired my interest in the intersection of health law and Indian law.

Tribes pass and implement laws that impact public health. Federal laws also create complex jurisdictional structures between tribes, states and the federal government. This necessitates additional research and scholarship on how these federal laws impact tribal health outcomes.

You come to us highly recommended as an instructor. What is your approach to teaching? Why do you enjoy it?

My goal as an instructor is to make law more accessible and approachable for my students. One way I do that is through storytelling. Every law has a few stories to tell, whether its purpose, passage or unintended consequences. Few things are more engaging and memorable than a good story, which is why stories are such good teaching tools.

I love teaching because I love to share my energy, time and expertise with my students. I also enjoy getting to know my students, learn from them and support them in their goals.

What are you looking forward to in Tulsa and at TU Law? What new opportunities do you envision?

It has been a real privilege to be able to work with tribes and tribal-serving organizations in different parts of the country, but it is a dream come true to be able to teach Indian law in Indian Country and to be at a law school with so many native students.

In addition to being a highly accomplished researcher and professor, would you give us a glimpse of Aila Hoss the person?

I’m an Iranian American, and my family moved around a lot when I was growing up. My folks live now in Atlanta, so that city feels most like home. Southern Indiana also has a special place in my heart because my husband grew up there on a small farm.

My husband is also a lawyer. He practices criminal defense and family law. We met during the first semester of our 1L year at the University of Oregon, and we supported one another throughout law school, the bar exam and our legal careers. Today, we are the proud parents of a Sharpei pup named Neville.

We’re both really thrilled to be moving to Tulsa. The warmer weather will be great, and we are looking forward to exploring new areas for hiking. I love to cook and share Persian food, so I’m excited by the prospect of a longer growing season and harvesting my own vegetables for the dishes I prepare.

TU Law professor published in world’s top medical journal

Matt Lamkin is an associate professor of law at TU Law.

Should doctors be asked to report to health insurers when patients aren’t following their treatment plans?  Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine – the top medical journal in the world – TU College of Law Associate Professor Matt Lamkin addresses workplace “wellness” programs that tie the cost of employees’ insurance to their health behaviors. Under these insurance plans, employees with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can see their insurance costs rise by thousands of dollars if they fail to follow their doctors’ instructions. Lamkin writes that although these programs seek to reduce health care costs by improving employees’ health – both of which are worthy goals – they can also come with hidden costs.

“Requiring physicians to report their patients’ noncompliance to insurers can threaten the trust that a productive doctor-patient relationship depends on,” Lamkin said.  “If a patient knows that a negative report from her physician will cause her insurance costs to skyrocket, she may be less honest with her doctor about her health behaviors.”

Professor Lamkin joined The University of Tulsa College of Law in 2013.  Prior to entering academia, he served as a policy advisor to the mayor of Indianapolis, an attorney at one of the world’s largest law firms and a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.

You can read the article, “Physician as Double Agent: Conflicting Duties Arising from Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs,” at the New England Journal of Medicine.

Revell specialized in health law in D.C. externships

With an undergraduate degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M University, Melissa Revell knew she wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare industry. Her studies led her to the field of law and to The University of Tulsa.

As a third year law student, Revell is worked in Washington, D.C. as a legal extern for both the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA).

“I spent the last semester of law school externing in Washington, D.C.”

“Working in Washington, D.C., the last semester of law school has rounded out my perspective on health care, by allowing me to see health care from the vantage point of a federal administrative agency,” said Revell. “I’m excited to take what I’ve learned from these experiences back to Tulsa where I’ll be working after graduation.”

At the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Revell consults with and drafts opinions for administrative law judges on Medicare disputes. At AHLA, she writes articles on recent healthcare decisions, legislation and regulatory changes for the agency’s newsletter sent to its 14,000 members.

“I’ve observed how healthcare attorneys provide objective counsel with compassion.”

In the summer of her second year, Revell interned at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, conducting legal research and advising counsel of issues of informed consent, patient discharge and advance directives. “My experience at St. Jude greatly impacted me, as I learned first-hand how their positions require the attorneys to provide objective counsel, while approaching delicate issues with compassion.”

Revell first became passionate about health care in her undergraduate years when she shadowed several physicians, operated a breast cancer research lab and volunteered in a prenatal clinic.

“Melissa came to me early with the goal of securing an opportunity in Washington, D.C. in health law. She used her network from her internship at St. Jude to focus in on where she wanted to be. We worked together on a plan within the externship program that allowed her to get course credit for two placements concurrently. Through her own tenacity, she is getting double experience and exposure in her preferred practice area,” said Lauren Donald, assistant dean for experiential learning at TU Law.

Revell is joining McAfee & Taft in Tulsa as a healthcare attorney.

During her time at TU Law, Revell was selected as a William W. Means Professionalism Endowed Scholar and a Steele Scholar. She served as an articles research editor of the Tulsa Law Review in 2017-18 and as an associate editor in 2016-17. She also earned four CALI Excellence for the Future awards in Legal Writing II, Legal Writing III, Constitutional Law II and Insurance Law.

“One of my favorite things about TU Law is the high caliber of the professors and how vested they are in their students. I love living in Tulsa, and I believe that Tulsa is a perfect size legal market for a new attorney to begin his or her career,” said Revell. After graduation, Revell is joining the healthcare practice group at McAfee & Taft in Tulsa.

For more information on externships at The University of Tulsa College of Law, visit us online.