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Health Reform & Affordable Care Act Research

Prepared by Anna Endter for LAW H522/HSERV 590 L Spring 2015


This legal research guide was prepared for students in the Affordable Care Act Seminar: Legal and Policy Issues in Health Reform Implementation, and includes links to both free internet and commercial subscription sources in the area of health care reform.

Some of the commercial sources included in this research guide are restricted to current UW faculty and students (UW Restricted). Certain legal databases are further restricted to UW Law faculty and students.

Remember that the law library’s reference librarians are here to help you. Stop by, call (543-6794), or email the Reference Office with questions.

Health Law Practice Centers

Some commercial sources have collected health care reform materials into “practice centers” that provide easy access to their subscription primary and secondary legal materials.  In the complicated area of health care reform, it is often most efficient to begin your research in one or more of these centers rather than searching for the text of the Affordable Care Act, journal and news articles about health care reform, etc.  on your own.

BloombergBNA: Health Practice Center (restricted to UW Law)

WestlawNext: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Collection (restricted to UW Law)

LexisNexis: Health Care—Area of Law (restricted to UW Law)

BNA: Health Law Resource Center (UW restricted)

CCH: Health Reform Knowledge Center (UW restricted)


Primary Legal Materials

Primary law is the statement of "the law" from bodies with law-making authority. Primary law includes statutes, cases, and administrative regulations.

There are many resources for locating primary law. Use these guides from the law library as a starting point if you’re new to legal research:

To find primary law sources in the area of health reform, as such as the text of the Affordable Care Act, and the cases interpreting it, you can begin in one of the practice centers noted above. You can also search one of the following online databases or use the law library’s print resources.

Online Primary Law Sources

  • Federal statutes and regulations are also available on free government websites.  See the law library’s Free Law Online research guide for links

Print Primary Law Sources

  • The United States Code (USC, USCA, USCS) is available in print in the Reference Area, KF62
  • The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is available in print in the Reference Area, KF70
  • Case law reporters are located in the Reference Area and on L2


Secondary Sources

Secondary sources provide commentary and analysis on statutes, cases, and other primary legal materials. Secondary sources are a good place to begin because they explain the law for you.

See the law library’s research guide on Secondary Sources for more information.

For secondary sources about health care reform, you can start in one of the practice centers noted previously and then move on to using these sources:

Books & Treatises

You can search the catalog for books at the law library and the UW libraries.  Try searching for “Affordable Care Act,” “health reform,” and “health insurance.”  You may also find good treatises in the health law practice centers.

Selected resources are listed below:

  • Affordable Care Act for Dummies. RA395.A3 Y34 at Classified Stacks.
  • Law, Explanation and Analysis of the Affordable Care Act: 2014 Update. KF1183.A369 L29 at Classified Stacks (and currently on Course Reserve for this class). Also available electronically via CCH’s Health Reform Knowledge Center under “Quick Links.”

Health Law Journal Articles

Law journal articles are scholarly articles that analyze and critique legal issues. There are many health law journals that are likely to have articles analyzing the Affordable Care Act and health reform generally. Journal articles are good sources for leads to other primary and secondary sources. You can search the full-text of law review articles using these sources (note that where possible the databases listed below are scoped to health law journals):

Journal Articles from Other Disciplines

Non-law journal articles are good for scientific and technical information, and analysis. They generally contain less legal analysis than law journals, and fewer leads to primary legal sources, but they can offer a different perspective about issues like health reform.

Use these sources to get started:

A note about PubMed: It is the most important index of medical and related journals and is produced by the National Library of Medicine. You can use the user guides to learn how to put together searches, but it's set up so that anyone can type in keywords and get relevant results.

Health Law Newsletters & News

Legal newsletters provide very current coverage in specialized areas of law, like health law, and can be used to develop research paper topics. They often cover developments that regular news sources don't, or they cover them with more depth.

  • BNA (UW restricted)


Selected Websites

Government-Sponsored Websites (Federal)

Health Policy Websites

Health Law Blogs

For more health law blogs, see the ABA Journal Blawg Directory

Other Legal Research Guides

Gallagher Law Library's guides on health law, including Health Law Research Tips

Georgetown Law Library’s Health Law Research Guide

NYU’s Health Care Reform and Affordable Care Act


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