The experiences of six health centers that used expanded services awards from HRSA to support legal-related enabling services are traced in this new issue brief. The lessons they learned demonstrate the catalyzing force that occurs when health centers and civil legal aid services collaborate, and the opportunity for other health centers to leverage a range of funding opportunities for fostering medical-legal partnerships. Fill out the form at the bottom of the page to download the report.
By Joanna Theiss, JD, LLM; Sharena Hagins, MPH, CHES; Marsha Regenstein, PhD; and Ellen Lawton, JD
Health centers have long recognized the importance of offering services beyond medical care to improve the health of their patients, including language access, transportation, and community supports. Over the past few years, a growing number of health centers have added civil legal aid services to this list, recognizing the critical role civil legal aid and medical-legal partnership (MLP) can play in eliminating barriers to good health posed by complex social and legal needs. But historically, health centers have struggled to procure and sustain the resources required to support MLP programs.
MLP are rapidly diversifying their funding streams, and taking cues from pioneering health centers to more effectively connect their services to priority populations and activities, seeking revenue alignment and impact wherever possible. One such way that health center-based MLPs diversified their financing in 2015 was through the HRSA Expanded Services (ES) supplemental funding awards to support increased access to preventive and primary health care services at existing Health Center Program grantee sites.
This issue brief describes the ways that a supplemental funding opportunity sparked MLP growth in health centers, resulting in expansions in civil legal aid services provided to health center patients by partnering civil legal aid organizations and law school clinics. It shares the experiences of health centers from Hawai’i to New Hampshire that received expanded services awards from HRSA and used them for legal-related enabling services, and extrapolates lessons for other health centers about the impact of collaborations between health centers and civil legal aid services and how to leverage funding opportunities for fostering medical-legal partnerships.