LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group since 2001, has a staff of 34 lawyers and paraprofessionals. Our mission is to provide free legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers with serious health problems within hospitals across New York City. LegalHealth complements health care with legal care, bringing together legal and medical professionals to improve the lives of these clients and their families where and when they need it most. In addition to onsite free legal clinics, LegalHealth trains health care professionals to recognize legal issues that may negatively affect medical outcomes.
In 2016, LegalHealth handled over 7,000 new matters for patients referred by physicians, social workers, and community-based health organizations. Immigration, public benefits and housing led the list of issues that brought these patients to LegalHealth.
I prescribe the drugs, but the patient can’t take them if the pharmacy won’t give them. The pharmacy won’t give them if the patient doesn’t have insurance. The patient can’t get insurance if she has legal problems in getting Medicaid. So while I could theoretically prevent her from getting sick, without LegalHealth it would all be in theory.— Dr. Howard Minkoff, Chairman, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maimonides Medical Center