News Affecting Seniors
By Jaime Levine
An Evolving Legal Services Model: The Medical-Legal Partnership
A medical-legal partnership (MLP) combines the health care and civil legal aid communities to address and solve health-harming social conditions. The health care side handles the consequences of poor housing, poor nutrition, and exposure to violence, whereas the legal side works to increase access to housing, public benefits, and safe communities. An MLP consists of attorneys, paralegals, doctors, and other medical professionals working in a healthcare setting to care for and provide a remedy for patients’ health and legal needs. As a team, these medical and legal communities work together to prevent health-harming social conditions for patients and their communities.
MLPs have been created in 292 health care institutions, including 44 children’s hospitals, 73 Health Resources and Services Administration-funded health centers, and an increasing number of institutions that serve veterans and the elderly. The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership conducted many studies on the health impact of combining health care and legal services. Studies have shown that patients are more likely to comply with healthcare treatments when their legal issues are addressed by an MLP.
MLPs have depended on philanthropy and support from various legal and healthcare organizations. Some MLPs are even funded by hospitals. The number of health care funding opportunities is growing. Elder Law & Advocacy is currently researching this issue and plans to partner with an appropriate healthcare entity in the future.