Nicole Huberfeld

Edward R. Utley Professor of Health Law, Boston University
Co-Director and Co-Founder, BU Program on Reproductive Justice
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Nicole

Huberfeld's research focuses on the cross-section of health law and constitutional law with emphasis health care reform, the role of federalism in health care, and Medicaid. She co-authored The Law of American Health Care, the first new casebook on health care law in a generation, and is coauthor of Public Health Law (3d ed. 2019). Huberfeld’s research was cited by the US Supreme Court in the first Affordable Care Act case, NFIB v. Sebelius. Her work also has been cited by the Delaware Supreme Court, federal district courts, and in briefs to the US Supreme Court. Huberfeld has published in numerous national and international journals including Stanford Law Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law & Ethics, Boston University Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, and Health Affairs.

In the News

Opinion: "Why Idaho’s Position in the Supreme Court Emergency Abortions Case Is Concerning," Nicole Huberfeld, The Hill, June 29, 2024.
Opinion: "EMTALA, a Vital Health Law You’ve Never Heard of, Is in Danger," Nicole Huberfeld, STAT News, April 23, 2024.
Opinion: "The Effects of Dobbs on Cancer Care," Nicole Huberfeld (with Karen Basen-Engquist, Beth Y. Karlan, Margaret Katana Ogongo, and K. Robin Yabroff), Health Affairs Forefront, March 29, 2024.
Opinion: "Impact of the Dobbs Decision on Cancer Care," Nicole Huberfeld (with Margaret Katana Ogongo, Beth Karlan, Alexander Melamed, Robin Yabroff, and Jennifer Zhu), Society of Gynecologic Oncology Blog, January 22, 2024.
Opinion: "Abortion Rights Victories Show This Issue Is Unlikely To Fade in 2024 Elections − 3 Things To Know," Nicole Huberfeld (with Linda C. McClain), The Conversation, November 9, 2023.
Opinion: "A Win With the Status Quo for Social Programs," Nicole Huberfeld, ACS Blogs, June 15, 2023.
Opinion: "Public Health Messages and the First Amendment: Graphic Warning Labels Struck Down," Nicole Huberfeld (with Gregory D. Curfman), Health Affairs Forefront, March 22, 2023.
Opinion: "The End of Public Health? It’s Not Dead Yet," Nicole Huberfeld, Harvard Law Bill of Health, February 27, 2023.
Opinion: "In First Nationwide Election Since Roe Was Overturned, Voters Opt To Protect Abortion Access," Nicole Huberfeld (with Linda C. McClain), The Conversation, November 9, 2022.
Opinion: "Returning Regulation to the States, and Predictable Harms to Health," Nicole Huberfeld, SCOTUSblog, June 30, 2022.
Opinion: "Roe Overturned: What You Need To Know About the Supreme Court Abortion Decision," Nicole Huberfeld (with Linda C. McClain), The Conversation, June 24, 2022.
Opinion: "While the US Is Reeling From COVID-19, the Trump Administration Is Trying To Take Away Health Care," Nicole Huberfeld (with Paul Shafer), The Conversation, August 25, 2020.
Opinion: "A Straightforward Solution to the Newly Uninsured," Nicole Huberfeld (with Michael Stein), The Hill, June 8, 2020.
Opinion: "Medicaid Block Grants Would Gut Law and Cut Care," Nicole Huberfeld, The Hill, January 31, 2020.
Opinion: "Texas v. U.S.: Another Day, Another Threat to the Affordable Care Act," Nicole Huberfeld, ACS Blogs, July 8, 2019.
Opinion: "Kentucky Must Provide Stability in Our Medicaid Program," Nicole Huberfeld (with Emily Whelan Parento), The Courier Journal, July 5, 2018.
Opinion: "After the Health Care Ruling: Medicaid, but Not Medicaid," Nicole Huberfeld, JURIST, July 27, 2012.


"Making Pandemic Era Medicaid Continuous Coverage Automatic in Future Crises" (with Paul R. Shafer, Kenneth Lim, Demetri Goutos, Joseph A. Benitez, and Kevin S. Hsu). Health Services Research 58, no. 6 (2023).

Discusses the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency which marked the conclusion of significant federal healthcare support for states and individuals. Notes that despite economic crises typically leading to declines in health insurance coverage, the federal response to the COVID-19 health and economic crises included novel policies aimed at maintaining continuous enrollment in Medicaid and enhancing Marketplace subsidies to help people stay insured. Suggests that the United States can prepare for future crises by automating implementation of policies that helped maintain insurance coverage during COVID-19.

"Federalism, Leadership, and COVID-19: Evolving Lessons for the Public’s Health" in COVID-19 and the Law Disruption, Impact and Legacy, edited by I. Glenn Cohen , Abbe R. Gluck , Katherine Kraschel and Carmel Shachar (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

Discusses the governance structure of healthcare in the United States, highlighting federalism's role in dividing responsibilities between the federal and state governments. Evaluates the atypical federal pandemic response, where the executive branch rejected centralized responsibility, and the varied state responses, some of which prioritized politics over health.

"Medicaid, the Supreme Court, and Safe Care for Nursing Home Residents" JAMA 329, no. 1 (2023): 17–18.

Analyzes the US Supreme Court litigation in Health and Hospital Corporation v. Talevski following oral arguments. Discusses the theory argued by the state-run institution accused of violating patient rights under the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act, which could disrupt federally funded social programs. Notes that the case's outcome could impact the accountability of nursing homes for substandard care and the stability of federal spending programs.

"Stewart v Azar and the Purpose of Medicaid: Work as a Condition of Enrollment" Public Health Reports 134, no. 2 (March 2019): 197-200.

Examines how recent action at the state level, specifically placing work requirements for people to access Medicaid coverage, differ from the historical path of Medicaid. Finds Medicaid has historically been expanded to cover more groups of people, most recently in the Obama administration, where states applied for waivers to expand coverage to people that were not previously eligible. Notes that Stewart v. Azar shows state efforts to do the opposite- impose restrictions and limit access to Medicaid.

"Rural Health, Universality, and Legislative Targeting" Harvard Health & Policy Review 12 (2018).

Finds obstacles in rural areas, such as small patient populations and low levels of health insurance, have led to hospital closures and worse health outcomes. Notes that programs like Affordable Care Act attempted to address these issues, as increasing insurance rates help individuals access care and keep rural hospitals financially stable. Notes some rural states have rejected the ACA, but their replacement choices targeting these communities appear to be less effective.

"What is Federalism in Healthcare For?" (with Abbe R. Gluck). Stanford Law Review 70, no. 6 (2018): 1689-1803.

Finds the Affordable Care Act has led to complex interactions between states and the federal government. Finds this set of interactions exists everywhere, no matter what actions a state took in response to the ACA. Concludes this lack of particular behavior challenges theories on federalism.

"The Supreme Court Ruling that Blocked Providers from Seeking Higher Medicaid Payments Also Undercut the Entire Program" Health Affairs 34, no. 7 (July 2015): 1156-1161.

Notes that a key aspect of the Medicaid program is the rate at which a state reimburses the providers of health services. Notes a 2015 Supreme Court case found that providers could not appeal to federal courts if they believed their reimbursement rates were too low. Finds this decision opened the door to states cutting reimbursement rates, at a period where many new people were entering Medicaid.

"The Universality of Medicaid at Fifty" Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics 15, no. 1 (2015).

Notes American healthcare has historically excluded people from receiving care- private providers have claimed the right to treat (or not treat) whoever they want. Finds this system is challenged by changes to Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act, which opened up healthcare to any person below a certain income level, regardless of age or health.

"Federalizing Medicaid" Journal of Constitutional Law 14, no. 2 (2011): 431-484.

Notes Medicaid is based on older state welfare programs that had a “deserving poor” in mind that were supposed to be supported. Finds the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid beyond these traditional groups, with the federal government providing almost all new funding for the program. Finds there is no compelling reason to keep Medicaid controlled by the states, and it would benefit being administered directly by the federal government, given state resistance to the expansion.