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Professor Tovino Explores the Impact of Neuroscience on Health Law in Latest Publication


Although most individuals believe that private health insurance is fairly comprehensive, treatment for some mental health conditions may not be completely covered.In states that do not require group health plans to offer complete parity between physical and mental health benefits, health insurance plans may provide fewer benefits for a range of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcohol and drug dependence, anorexia nervosa, and postpartum depression.But, what if recent neuroimaging studies provide greater evidence of the biological basis of these conditions?

Professor Tovino seeks to address this question in her latest publication entitled, Neuroscience and Health Law: An Integrative Approach? in which she examines the impact that structural and functional neuroimaging studies have on health, disability, and benefit law and policy.Specifically, she reviews scientific studies finding that individuals with mental disorders have brains that may be neuroanatomically, neurocognitively, and neurochemically “different” when compared to the brains of healthy controls, and examines how these findings should influence the normative question of which physical and mental disorders should be covered by public and private health insurance plans, mental health parity laws, and public and private disability benefit programs.

Professor Tovino concludes that advances in neuroscience give us reason to revisit age-old health, disability, and benefit law questions (such as, “What kinds of mental suffering create legitimate claims from others through public or private health insurance?”), but that neuroscience does not yet answer these questions.She anticipates that neuroscience will continue to play a role in the development and shaping of health, disability, and benefit law and policy and recommends that lawyers and scholars who work in these areas be mindful of the ways in which stakeholders will use neuroscience to bear on the formulation and interpretation of such law.A copy of Professor Tovino’s article will be available on her biography page accessible from the Health Law Institute Faculty and Staff link on this page.