Founded in 2006, the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership is project in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.
To improve the health and well-being of people and communities by leading health, public health, and legal sectors in an integrated, upstream approach to combating health-harming social conditions.
The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership leads the research, resource development, and systems change needed to grow medical-legal partnerships and reach communities in need. Our work is focused in four areas:
We’ve helped the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs develop MLP agendas within their agencies. And our children’s hospital learning network helped jumpstart a model for sharing data between insurers, hospitals, and civil legal aid providers that allows each to get a comprehensive view of a patient’s needs and financial status.
We host leaders and practitioners from the public and private sectors at an annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit, convene learning networks to help children’s hospital and health center-based programs, and provide technical assistance through webinars and office hours. As a result of our recent Where Health Meets Justice Fellowship program, civil legal aid leaders are operating from a mission of improved health, and began using data and preventive practices to target legal problems before they become crises.
Each year, we survey all of the health care and legal organizations that participate in medical-legal partnerships about their programs and MLP activities. The 2015 survey report shares findings pertaining to common characteristics of medical-legal partnerships, screening practices, funding, data sharing, and impact on wellbeing, as well as recommendations for the field nationally. Additionally, we have begun developing, implementing, and testing medical-legal partnership performance measures in order to: 1) assess and evaluate the systems that drive the MLP approach and their impact; 2) develop a set of best practices for the field regarding data collection and reporting on MLP-related measures; and 3) engage in meaningful process and quality improvement at the local and national MLP levels. A detailed accounting of these measures and how to use them is included in the Medical-Legal Partnership Performance Measures Handbook.
We work on a variety of public and private funding strategies to help pay for medical-legal partnerships in the field. Recently, our work was key to a federal policy change at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that recongnizes civil legal aid as an enabling service, and allows federal health center funding to pay for on-site legal services.