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Developments in medicine and constitutional law dictate modification of public health legislation in the United States. Traditionally overlooked by legislators, present public health laws provide inadequate decision-making criteria and inappropriate procedures for dealing with issues. Revised legislation should provide health care officials and agencies with the tools to balance individual rights against public health necessities. This article makes four recommendations for legislative reform: (1) remove artificial legislative distinction between venereal and other communicable diseases; (2) provide criteria defining "public health necessity" to limit discretionary exercise of police power by health officials; (3) provide strong confidentiality protections in the collection and storage of public health information; (4) empower public health officials to select from a graded series of less restrictive alternatives in dealing with public health problems.

Publication Citation

12 Am. J.L. & Med. 461-490 (1987)