Grant funding supports MedLaw Partnership of WNY
Congressman Brian Higgins announced a federal grant totaling $214,000 awarded to the Center for Elder Law and Justice. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and awarded through the Administration for Children and Families’ Medical Legal Partnership Plus (MLP+) demonstration program, the grant will support the MedLaw Partnership of Western New York, which assists low-income patients and families experiencing significant medical, financial and legal challenges.
“Four in five low-income families are not receiving the legal assistance they need to ensure that their basic needs are met, often causing a significant impact on their physical and financial well-being,” Higgins said. “The Center for Elder Law and Justice and the MedLaw Partnership of Western New York are critical community partners serving patients and families of all ages. Federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will expand the partnership’s efforts to provide legal and social services for those experiencing the greatest health and economic disparities across Western New York.”
Founded in 2016, the MedLaw Partnership of Western New York is a collaboration between the Center for Elder Law and Justice, Erie County Medical Center, Kaleida Health, and Western New York Breast Health that “provides equitable access to legal and social services, helping patients of all ages address their unmet medical, legal and social needs. The partnership helps to improve the wellbeing of children and families by assisting with housing stability, income support, family stability, immigration, and environmental health.”
Center for Elder Law & Justice CEO Karen L. Nicolson, Esq., said, "Unmet social needs, environmental factors, and barriers to accessing health care contribute to worse health outcomes for people with lower incomes. Longstanding medical-legal partnerships have demonstrated the ability to address the root causes of poverty and racial inequities and significantly improve long-term health outcomes. We are grateful for this opportunity to strengthen our Medical Legal Partnership of WNY by integrating legal and social services into health care settings with the hope of improving long-term health outcomes and increasing the wellbeing of children and families.”
Grant funding will allow the MedLaw Partnership to assist an additional 100 legal cases for children and families. It will also expand the partnership’s capacity to integrate legal and social services into health care settings by adding a new part-time attorney to address issues related to public housing, benefits and health care, as well as a new social services navigator to help identify patients’ needs and connect them directly to critical services. Additionally, funding will be used to provide 10 training sessions to MedLaw staff, partners and community stakeholders to increase awareness and knowledge around the issues patients are facing.
Higgins’ team said, “The MedLaw Partnership of Western New York is one of just eight programs of this kind across the country. Launched this year, the MLP+ demonstration program awarded $1.6 million in federal grant funding to MLPs in Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Grants will help these existing partnerships increase their capacity to serve their communities by providing legal services and wraparound social supports to help improve their health and wellbeing, while addressing the causes and consequences of poverty.”
The Center for Elder Law and Justice has served the Western New York community for more than 40 years, “providing free legal assistance to older adults and families to ensure they can live independently with dignity.” To request assistance through the MedLaw Partnership, call 1-844-700-1872. To learn more about all that the Center for Elder Law and Justice offers, visit https://www.elderjusticeny.org/.