The Association of American Medical Colleges, Ayuda Familias in Texas, and the Whole Person Care LA Medical-Legal Community Partnership were honored with awards from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership for their work to advance health equity and justice through the integration of health and legal services. Awards were presented at the Whole Person. Whole Team. Whole Communities. Summit on September 20, 2019.
The 2019 Medical-Legal Partnership Leadership Award
The Medical-Legal Partnership Leadership Award was established in 2010 and is given annually to recognize an individual or group whose leadership, vision, and hard work have significantly advanced and strengthened the medical-legal partnership (MLP) movement to reach people and communities in need through integrated health and legal services. This year, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) was honored for the ways they embraced the medical-legal partnership intervention in its infancy and made strategic investments to ensure sustainable, evidence-based MLP practice.
The award specifically recognizes the AAMC’s AHEAD Initiative, which included a three-year learning cohort to help evaluate the impact of MLP services on (1) patient and community health; (2) cost savings, institutional benefits, and efficiencies; and (3) student, resident, and/or fellow educational outcomes. The AAMC’s efforts have helped catalyze health care and legal organizations to pursue MLP research with a focus on health equity solutions, and have truly broadened the MLP intervention to align more directly with health care trends in workforce development, population health, and value-based care. Through this work, the AAMC has also developed a national cohort of health care and civil legal aid leaders equipped to advance the research further.
The 2019 Impact Award
The Impact Award was established in 2019 to recognize front-line teams that initiated a change to positively impact the health and well-being of current and future patients and community members.
This year, Ayuda Familias, Ruby Powers of Powers Law Group, and Dr. Kate Sugarman were honored for their rapid-response approach to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, beginning in the summer of 2018 and continuing today. Ayuda Familias is a multidisciplinary collaboration created in the aftermath of zero tolerance and designed to immediately confront the separation of children from their parents by leveraging the health and legal systems that exist to support and protect people and families in the U.S., regardless of immigration status. Ayuda Familias brings together the expertise of each profession and oversees research and logistics from prison release to family reunification by utilizing Dr. Sugarman’s medical support letters and the pro bono legal services of Ms. Powers. Their joint focus on the most urgent medical cases in immigration detention allows them to deliver efficient and effective justice through health care to the medically-fragile immigrant population who is so vastly hidden and underserved. Their collaboration in a time of crisis and on behalf of the most vulnerable is powerful inspiration for all of us.
The Whole Person Care LA Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP) was recognized for its ground-breaking vision in creating unified access to legal services for vulnerable Medi-Cal beneficiaries in LA County. Together, its many partners leveraged California’s Medicaid Waiver under 1115 to pay for legal services, technical assistance, and training. By ensuring legal services were included in this important federally-funded pilot, LA County and its legal partners have set a powerful new standard of how to fund, staff, measure, and sustain legal services within a health care initiative. The collaborative spirit across all partners, alongside the development of a virtual MLCP on-line platform enabling linkage across the health and legal partners, together with a model high-traffic on-site clinic, is transforming the health, public health and legal landscapes in LA County and offers critical lessons for other cities, counties, regions, and states to consider.
Whole Person Care LA MLCP partners include Whole Person Care Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles County Health Agency and a team of premier nonprofit law firms led by Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County in collaboration with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Mental Health Advocacy Services, and Bet Tzedek Legal Services.