Solomon Center, Rep. DeLauro Help Secure Funding for Medical-Legal Partnerships

U.S. Congress

Thanks to the tireless advocacy of legal advocates and medical providers — including many at the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School and at Yale New Haven Health — medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) around the country will receive new federal funds to support their vital work. 

The 2023 appropriations bill passed by Congress in December includes a $2 million MLP grant program to assist individuals with health-harming legal needs, including in the areas of housing stability, income supports, family stability, civil rights, immigration, and environmental health. As the accompanying House Report explains, medical-legal partnerships provide value to underserved communities “by combining health and legal services at a single site of care,” and the grant money will be awarded to “multidisciplinary teams that will work together to address medical and social/legal problems that have an impact on overall health.” Grants will be awarded with preference to minority-serving institutions and university-affiliated safety-net non-profit hospitals that have long-standing medical-legal partnerships that primarily serve Native and underserved populations. 

The Solomon Center operates five MLPs in partnership with Yale New Haven Health serving patients ranging from the elderly, to the formerly incarcerated, to immigrants, to palliative care and breast cancer patients, and also works closely with the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and Center for Children’s Advocacy on their MLP programs. MLPs aim to reach populations that do not have easy access to, or trust in, legal services, to address health-harming civil legal and social needs — such as housing, benefits and discrimination — from trusted sites of medical care. 

“This grant will provide life-changing support for MLPs’ client communities,” Medical-Legal Partnership Legal Director and Clinical Lecturer in Law James Bhandary-Alexander said. “It will also enable more training of future attorneys and doctors to work collaboratively to meet patients’ medical and legal needs.” 

Kyle Ballou, Vice President of Yale New Haven Health, expressed gratitude for the funding.

“We are extremely grateful for the recently approved funding. Yale New Haven Health is proud of our long-standing MLP program that gives our patients access to legal resources during their visits. This access can be critical to their care and can help clinicians address specific health-harming legal needs quickly and effectively.” 

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro was instrumental in ensuring the funding was included in the bill. 

“Medical Legal Partnerships play a major role in assisting people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to legal representation,” DeLauro said. “They are pivotal in making sure that all individuals have access to legal services at community healthcare clinics, and they bring lawyers and law students directly to patients to assist with legal needs in areas that impact people’s health — such as housing, employment, and family stability. Providing legal aid funding will help improve health outcomes for underserved populations, while giving voice to those who have historically been silenced because of a lack of resources. I was proud to include needed investments in MLP in the 2023 government funding bill.”

Bethany Hamilton, Co-Director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, noted the significance of the funding. 

“The medical-legal partnership, or MLP, movement has officially reached a new milestone. Tucked into the congressional records for the FY 2023 omnibus appropriations bill, signed into law by the President, was a relatively small provision that codified an agreement to provide funding for an MLP grant program through ACF. We believe this provision marks the first time that Congress has passed legislation to provide funding that is expressly dedicated to MLPs. In no uncertain terms, this is an historic and significant show of support from Congress to MLP pioneers, practitioners, and supporters around the country. The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership commends the 117th Congress for paving the way forward, and would like to extend our gratitude to Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro, her staff, and advocates for their leadership on this landmark legislation to advance the MLP movement.”

Abbe R. Gluck ’00, Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Solomon Center, emphasized how medical legal partnerships address a critical need.

 “Our MLP program is one of the contributions the Solomon Center is most proud of, and it is incredibly significant that Congress has recognized the critical work MLPs do with this support,” said Gluck said. “Addressing health inequities and health harming social needs is one of the most important health policy challenges of our time. It is our privilege to represent clients every day through our MLPs, including people with cancer, those receiving palliative care, immigrants, geriatric patients, individuals recently returning from incarceration, children and veterans.”