Eliza Schafler is an MHAS Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP.
BeHeLP supporters will be pleased to learn that the Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) model was prominently featured in The New York Times this week. The article, entitled, “When Poverty Makes You Sick, A Lawyer Can Be the Cure,” discusses the work of several MLPs around the country: Child HeLP in Cincinnati, LegalHealth in New York, the MLPs at Boston Medical Center and University of Nebraska Medical Center, and more.
Here is an excerpt:
“Being poor can make you sick. Where you work, the air you breathe, the state of your housing, what you eat, your levels of stress and your vulnerability to crime, injury and discrimination all affect your health. These social determinants of health lie outside the reach of doctors and nurses.”
And, we might add, therapists and social workers. Here’s more on the “social determinants of health”:
“Medical-legal partnerships are growing in part because of increasing attention to social determinants of health. Talking about inequality means talking about the vicious cycles that keep people poor; one of the most important is the intersection of poverty and health.” To illustrate, “[t]he vast majority of low-income Americans have unresolved legal problems: debt, immigration status, custody issues, child care, benefits, back pay, housing, a special education plan for a child — you name it.”
The article also discusses some of the benefits of the MLP model, including this important one:
“Clinics that have medical-legal partnerships approach health differently than others. When doctors have no options for helping patients with the social determinants of health, they tend not to ask about them. With a medical-legal partnership, they do.”
The entire article can be found here.