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Commentary
September 22/29, 2010

Role of State Attorneys General in Health Policy

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

JAMA. 2010;304(12):1377-1378. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1377

The 50 US state attorneys general are powerful but underrecognized participants in establishing and refining health policy. Much of their work protects the public's health, but arguably, they can obstruct health goals. As a state's chief legal officer, an attorney general enjoys broad powers and can pursue a wide range of actions on the state's behalf. An amalgamation of laws, from states' constitutions, statutes, and judicial opinions, grants state attorneys general the power to protect the public interest.1 For example, state attorneys general can litigate to protect consumers or redress environmental law violations. They represent state agencies when legal challenges arise and issue written opinions solicited by these agencies or their state's governor. Additionally, state attorneys general can advocate for change through interviews and press releases.

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