Professor Valarie Blake Posts New Work to SSRN

West Virginia University College of Law professor Valarie Blake recently posted three new works to SSRN.

"Seeking Insurance Parity During the Opioid Crisis" is forthcoming in the Utah Law Review in 2019.

From the abstract:

Too many privately insured face substantial barriers and delays to getting timely and affordable substance use disorder (SUD) care when they need it, sometimes with terrible and irreversible consequences. Historically, private insurers have been reluctant to cover such services and have been glad to leave this responsibility to public systems like Medicaid. Laws like the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were meant to make private insurance more generous, but these laws are underenforced and too weak to fully address the challenges of the opioid epidemic. When patients and the country need it most, private insurers are failing us is in both preventing and treating opioid addiction.

This Article considers why private insurers are contributing negatively to the opioid crisis and what we can do to hold them accountable in the future. Part I summarizes key provisions of the MHPAEA and the ACA, the two current laws that govern private insurers’ coverage of SUD services. Part II examines the current state of private insurance in the midst of the opioid epidemic. It finds that insurers are underperforming. One, private insurers are not equaling Medicaid and other government programs in tackling the opioid epidemic. Two, private insurers continue to place harmful impediments and restrictions on SUD services compared with other medical care. Lastly, Part III considers ways to make private insurers carry their weight in the future including recognizing private insurance’s role and responsibility in the opioid crisis, as well as state and federal legal reforms.

"Ensuring an Underclass: Stigma in Insurance" is forthcoming in the Cardozo Law Review in 2020.

From the abstract:

In our country, access to insurance can be a matter of life and death, as well as financial security. Despite these great stakes, the ability to get affordable insurance is often influenced by social factors like sexual orientation, age, gender, and race. Insurers defend these practices, and regulators frequently agree, on the basis of actuarial fairness. That is, some groups are costlier to insure and others shouldn’t have to offset their expenses. This article advances a stigma-based critique to challenge this conception of lawful discrimination and fairness in insurance. The sociological stigma literature tells us that it is a natural social tendency to seek out differences, stereotype, and create underclasses who enjoy less social standing and experience structural and individual discrimination. Applying stigma theory to insurance, actuarial fairness is undermined. Of course some people will be costlier to insure, but we may be incapable of determining this in an unbiased way. Far from being ensconced in scientific objectivity, insurance is influenced by subjective social constructsin ways that produce unfair harms for insurance underclasses. Insurance should be regulated to address and minimize these harms.

"Regulating Care Robots" is forthcoming in the Temple Law Review in 2020.

From the abstract:

Care robots are already assisting the elderly in some nursing homes around the globe and could be in widespread use in hospitals and homes sooner than we think. These robots promise great hope for patients: to help them remain independent, to provide assistance with daily living, to comfort and distract during procedures, to educate, and to be companions during the vulnerable and lonely times in patient lives. Yet, care robots will have unprecedented access to personal lives, combined with designs aimed at winning patient trust and affection, and with recording and sensory capabilities beyond any human. They pose significant risk to privacy, autonomy, and confidentiality, three patient interests integral to preserving trust in the medical system. Regulation of care robots will be necessary to safeguard patient interests and trust and in order for patients to tolerate care robots. This article proposes a regulatory framework for care robots addressing four key stakeholders involved in care robot governance: the providers and institutions that deploy care robots, the manufacturers of such robots, and government agencies. The article proposes some practical, concrete steps that each stakeholder can take now to begin to prepare for a future with care robots.

Read more of Professor Blake's scholarship on SSRN.