National Center Initiatives

As the leading voice for medical-legal partnership, the National Center engages in education, research, and technical assistance to foster a system where all health organizations leverage legal services to better address health-related social needs. Below are a few of the projects we’ve embarked on to create that culture shift.

1. Original research on medical-legal partnership

Our research examines how health care and legal organizations are working together to screen and treat patients’ health-related social and legal needs, how this work is being financed, and how to overcome structural issues inherent in cross sector work. We’ve released issue briefs on screening, MLP practice, population health, information-sharing, and financing. We’ve also authored reports specifically on the MLP approach in health centers, veteran health care settings, complex care settings, health care for the homeless sites, and school-based health settings. Recently, we’ve published issue briefs examining MLP’s role in addressing the opioid crisis, meeting the needs of socially vulnerable older adults, and providing holistic care for transgender individuals.

  2. Increased funding opportunities for medical-legal partnerships

The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership’s work was instrumental in a federal policy change at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that allows federal health care dollars to pay for patient-centered legal services.

3. The Social Determinants of Health Academy

Founded by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, The Social Determinants of Health Academy is a HRSA-funded virtual training series designed to help staff from health centers, Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCN), and Primary Care Associations (PCA) develop, implement, and sustain SDOH interventions in their clinics and communities. The SDOH Academy features curricula that bring a variety of approaches and resources to bear under one umbrella to support health centers in addressing SDOH in their communities, and is jointly coordinated by multiple organizations with HRSA National Cooperative Agreements (NCA).

Now in its third year, The SDOH Academy is focused on learning collaboratives to provide a shared learning opportunity to smaller cohorts of health centers, HCCNs, and PCAs. These collaboratives focus on transforming care to better meet the socioeconomic circumstances and non-clinical needs of all special and vulnerable populations.

4. Federal agency roundtable on the opioid crisis

In September 2017, we teamed with the Office for Access to Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable to host a meeting on the ongoing opioid crisis and how medical-legal partnerships can play a role in alleviating its effects. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA, SAMHSA and ASPE), the Department of Justice, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Legal Services Corporation, the Social Security Administration, and several national partner organizations. Participants gained a better understanding of areas where legal services could support recovery, and opportunities for legal, health, and public health agencies to collaborate to support patient care. A follow up issue brief outlines the role of medical-legal partnership in helping address the opioid crisis.