Meet Andrew Twinamatsiko: MHSL Adjunct Professor and Associate Director of the Health Policy and the Law Initiative at the O’Neill Institute
Tell us about your new course and why it’s important?
This new course, Racism, Health Equity, and the Law, is dear to me in a lot of ways. The course was inspired by the deficiency in traditional legal discourse in interrogating the role of chattel slavery and white supremacy in creating social structures that lead to negative health outcomes that are disproportionately borne by subjugated groups, especially racial and ethnic minorities.
Also, I found public health discussions about the social determinants of health and health equity somewhat misleading — nibbling around the edges and not going to heart of issue.
I think this course is important because it was designed to address the centrality of race and racism in American and global health. Using primarily an antiblack-racism lens, the course will critically analyze the law—along the axis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and class—to show how the law creates, sustains, and legitimizes inequitable health outcomes. The course will challenge students to look at the law not as a collection of neutral, logical principles, but as a tool for maintaining racial order—using health disparities to bear that out. This course’s critical approach will be used to analyze the legal dimensions of current public health issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the obesity epidemic, the tobacco epidemic, healthcare access, climate change, and socio-political determinants of health to analyze the law beyond the traditional paradigms of legal reasoning.
What do you like most about your work as the Associate Director?
There are various things I like, but mostly it is working collaboratively with different partners on health policies to ensure that people are accessing the resources they need to live healthful lives. This is especially so when I am able to work with different stakeholders to identify gaps in health and leverage my expertise to close those gaps. Most of the work that I do revolves around litigation, and, as a trained attorney, it can be both challenging and fulfilling to explore ways in which courts can be used to shape health policy.
Can you tell us more about your role at the O’Neill Institute and share a bit about your background?
In this role, I provide legal technical assistance for policymakers and public education on health policy legal issues — primarily focusing on access to healthcare coverage, affordability, transparency, and equity.
Prior to joining the O’Neill Institute, I was a senior staff attorney at the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where I provided legal technical assistance to public health professionals, governmental agencies, and advocates throughout the U.S. in developing policies to eliminate tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. Together with other attorneys at the Public Health Law Center, I spent a lot of time working collaboratively with the California Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program to craft a wide range of tobacco control initiatives, including tobacco endgame policies aimed at ending the tobacco epidemic in California. I have also served as an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline since 2017, mainly teaching public health law and state and local government law.
(Pictured above is the entrance to the O’Neil Institute in Washington, DC.)
Lauren Shurson, ’21 – Graduated MHSL with the Health Care Compliance certificate
What have you been up to since graduating in 2021 and where are you working now?
Since graduating and spending last summer studying for the bar exam, I went on several trips to South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Virginia, Utah, Georgia, Illinois, and Florida. I needed to get away, relax, and do anything but study! I then started working at United HealthGroup last fall as a Sr. Analyst in Supplier Management, where I focused on vendor contracting and compliance. With a desire to practice as a health law attorney, since April, I now work at UCare as Corporate Counsel.
How has the Health Law Institute shaped your law school experience?
Participating in HLI provided me with invaluable skills I use daily and connections that shaped my career and professional identity. I also participated in the Annual Health Law Regulatory & Compliance Competition, where I not only learned a great deal from my teammates but also got to test my health law skills and knowledge. I also had the opportunity to extern at the Minnesota Department of Human Services in Appeals and with the Office of General Counsel.
What’s something that people might not know about you?
I’ve run six marathons so far, and recently finished Grandma’s Marathon in June 2022 with a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. I raced three marathons during my first year of law school, including Chicago and Boston, which are two of six of the World Marathon Majors. I’m an avid runner and race for Run N Fun, a local racing team that competes regularly.
What are you most proud of?
It’s difficult to pick just one achievement as every paper, project, and exam throughout law school are achievements that I’m very proud of as they all pushed me to achieve more than I thought I was capable of. I’m incredibly proud of graduating from law school as a member of HLI with the Health Care Compliance Certificate and passing the bar exam. I also couldn’t be more thankful for the village (family, friends, professors, managers, etc.) that helped make it possible. Professionally, I’m very proud to be working at a local non-profit that lives its mission and puts the health of its members first.
Events & Opportunities
Thank you to our speakers for contributing to an outstanding CLE on Food Traceability earlier this spring. At their request, instead of any kind of reimbursement for their time, they asked the Health Law Institute to donate to Second Harvest Heartland, a MN based hunger relief organization. We know how important it is to give back, and we’re pleased to do so in their honor.
To stay up to date on our upcoming CLEs this fall, you can follow us on Twitter for event updates!
Congratulations to the HLI faculty and staff on their accomplishments in May, June, and July of 2022! Follow the links to view their most recent presentations, publications, events, panels, and media highlights.
They have tackled major topics this summer, such as “Controversies in Brain Death”, navigating the intersection of ethics with client/community relationships, and how the overturning of Roe v. Wade will affect abortion access and medications.
This fall we welcome a new cohort of students from all around the United States; from California to Florida to Massachusetts and more, we’re excited to be working with such an incredible group of working professionals.
Gain a competitive advantage in one of the hottest job markets by obtaining your Health Care Compliance Certificate through our 11-13 credit program, completely online! More information and application details for J.D. students and for working professionals.
Health Law Institute’s Rankings
Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Health Law Institute was ranked nationally by U.S. News & World Report for 2023.
The Health Law Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law was awarded an ‘A’ in PreLaw’s Back to School issue! Health Law rankings are located on page 42. Read the full article!
This quarterly newsletter includes information about upcoming events, courses, certificates, and student, faculty, and alumni news. It’s a great way to stay up to date and involved with Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Health Law Institute.