Courts, Inequality, and Health Care

Peter D. Jacobson, Elizabeth Selvin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When interpreting legislation, courts are often presented with opportunities to address health-care inequalities. This chapter describes four instances showing the judiciary's reluctance to confront health-care inequalities. It argues that despite precedent for judicial intervention to change social policy in public education, welfare rights, and judicial takeovers of certain institutions, there has been considerable judicial reluctance to do so in health care. The courts have systematically chosen markets over equity. Medicare/Medicaid, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986 (EMTALA), the Hill-Burton Act, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are examples that several trends advocates should consider in devising strategies for reducing health-care inequalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHealthy, Wealthy, and Fair
Subtitle of host publicationHealth Care and the Good Society
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199850204
ISBN (Print)9780195170665
StatePublished - Oct 3 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Courts
  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Employee retirement income
  • Health-care inequalities
  • Hill-burton act
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Social policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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