LEGAL RESEARCH CORNER
KERRI ROWE, J.
Health law has become a major topic of conversation, not only among lawyers and policymakers, but also among those who administer, access, or work within the health system. Rapid and often divisive changes in U.S. health systems have caused confusion and insecurity. Colorado lawyers, regardless of practice area, may find themselves fielding questions from concerned clients or might themselves be concerned about recent changes to the health law in Colorado specifically.
This article presents strategies and tools for conducting Colorado health law research. It begins with a discussion of secondary materials, which will be most appropriate for those seeking a general understanding of health law, and then covers primary sources, including statutes, regulations, and local ordinances. Next, it discusses how to stay current on health care related legislation and the roles of various committees of the Colorado General Assembly. Finally, it explores subscription-based services as a tool for health law research.
Colorado-focused secondary materials can be a great place to start when researching an unfamiliar feld of law. These materials often serve as an approachable entry point into a new topic. The Colorado Health Institute (CHI)1, for example, routinely provides articles addressing key topics on Colorado health law through its website.
CLE presentations and materials are another good source for learning about a specific field of law, often presenting a condensed introduction by experts in the field. Although some may address a narrow health law issue, others will provide a holistic review of Colorado health law, such as the 2014 Colorado Health Law Symposium, which discussed changes to Colorado health law as well as national developments. Many CLE programs and materials are available through Colorado Bar Association CLE. Print materials can also be found in law library collections, including the University of Colorado Boulder Wise Law Library or University of Denver Westminster Law Library.
For information that goes beyond Colorado law, researches can turn to the multitude of books and treatises that have been written on various aspects of health law. Recommended resources include:
■ Health Law Hornbook;2
■ Fundamentals of Health Law;
■ “Health Law Nutshells” series (e.g., Health Care Law and Ethics in a Nutshell,4 Mental Health Law in a Nutshell,5 and Public Health Law in a Nutshell6 ); and
■ The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Healthcare Law.7
For developing issues, researchers should consult journal articles. Health law-centric journals include The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics and the American Journal of Law & Medicine, both published by the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, and The Health Lawyer, published by the American Bar Association. Many law schools, including Yale University8 and St. Louis University,9 also publish health law journals or law reviews focused on recent issues facing health law. These materials are often available online. Researchers can also search Social Science Research Network (SSRN) for articles written by law faculty.10
Researchers with access to library catalogs can perform a generic “health law” search to locate introductory titles on health law. Once a relevant text has been found, researchers can simply “stand and scan” the shelves to find more books on the topic.
Law libraries also often draft research guides on specifc fields of law. A Google search for “Health Law Research Guide” will provide a sample of research guides that researchers can use to begin their exploration. Both Cornell University Law School and Georgetown Law Library, for example, have created in-depth guides to federal health law research.
This article focuses on providing guidance for performing Colorado health law research, but researchers should keep in mind that health law is also governed by federal law. Primary sources for Colorado health law include both state and federal statutes (although this article focuses on state-specific research materials), the regulations promulgated by the agencies tasked with administering these statutes, and local municipal ordinances.
Colorado statutes governing health law are located in:
■ Title 12: Professions and Occupations (Articles 29 to 43.9 relate to health care);
■ Title 25: Public Health and Environment;
■ Title 25.5: Health Care Policy and Financing;
■ Title 26: Human Services Code; and
■ Title 27: Behavioral Health.
The CRS is available online at no charge through LexisNexis.11 Browsing the CRS Table of Contents from this free resource is a quick and easy way to see which health law topics are covered.
The statutes can also be used to find out which regulatory bodies are tasked with carrying out the directives given by the legislature. Researchers can then use materials from the appropriate agency to inform their search.
Colorado agencies provide online access to their current and proposed regulations. These agencies also provide opportunities for interested parties to ask questions or obtain more information directly from the agency. Often, they provide reports on current...