LegalHealth Designated One of the First Health-Related Legal Services Programs By New York State Department of Health

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LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group, together with Beth Israel Medical Center, has just been designated by the New York State Department of Health as one of the State’s first “Health-Related Legal Services Programs.”

Health-Related Legal Service Programs, also known as medical-legal partnerships, allow legal professionals to be integrated into a patient’s healthcare team to address nonmedical problems, such as unstable housing or the lack of health insurance and other benefits, that impede treatment or recovery, or endanger a patient’s health. Through these partnerships, attorneys provide onsite legal services to patients of the healthcare facility. New York is the first state to provide a legislative endorsement for Health-Related Service Programs.

“Helping patients access critical services and benefits is critical to ensuring they receive the care they need,” State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. said. “The Health-Related Legal Services Program will promote valuable collaborations among health care providers and legal assistance organizations, like the one between NYLAG and Beth Israel Hospital, and will provide an important tool to better serve patients’ needs.”

“This is an exciting day for NYLAG. Designation as a New York State Health-Related Legal Services Program is a welcome recognition of the critical work we have been doing since 2001 in partnership with healthcare providers to ensure that legal advocacy is able to fulfill its promise as an important component in improving the lives of poor and near-poor patients,” said Randye Retkin, Co-Founder and Chair of the New York State Coalition of Medical-Legal Partnerships and Director of LegalHealth.

“Beth Israel has collaborated with NYLAG’s LegalHealth professionals since 2002. This historic law designating Health-Related Legal Services Programs will strengthen our collective work and ensure that designated partnerships flourish,” said Harris M. Nagler, President of Beth Israel Medical Center. “As service providers and partners, LegalHealth has helped Beth Israel to reduce healthcare disparities by addressing the link between poverty and health problems, and by promoting access to healthcare and improved quality of life for our most vulnerable patients.”

UJA-Federation of New York worked closely with NYLAG to secure official recognition of Health-Related Legal Services Programs, earning the support of legislative Health Committee chairmen Senator Kemp Hannon and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. As a result, state legislation was passed last year paving the way for legal designation.

“We are very pleased to see that the NYS Department of Health has made the stellar NYLAG/Beth Israel Health-Related Legal Services program one of the first designated programs in the State,” said Ronald Soloway, Managing Director of Government and External Relations at UJA-Federation. “We look forward to supporting NYLAG’s ongoing work in helping low-income New Yorkers solve legal problems that affect their health and recovery.”

The New York State Department of Health designates Health-Related Legal Services Programs that demonstrate that they meet certain standards, such as a capability and experience in providing high quality, health-related legal services, a jointly executed agreement between health care providers and legal assistance organization, and adherence to codes of ethical conduct, among other criteria.