Medical-legal partnerships (MLP) integrate the expertise of healthcare, public health, and legal professionals and staff to address and prevent health-harming social and legal needs for patients, clinics, and populations. By partnering together, healthcare, public health, and legal institutions transform the healthcare system’s response to social determinants of health.
Who is Eligible
Typically lower income families and individuals are served by medical-legal partnerships in order to meet their legal needs and eradicate adverse social determinants of health.
Social determinants of health – the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, play, and age, as well as the systems designed to improve health and treat illness – have a significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Many of these social conditions can be traced to laws that are unfairly applied or under-enforced, often leading to the improper denial of services and benefits that are designed to help vulnerable people. For example, people who are wrongfully denied nutritional supports and health insurance coverage lack critical resources that are necessary to meet their daily needs. People who live in housing with mold or rodents, in clear violation of sanitary codes, are in a physical environment that leads to illness or exacerbates existing health conditions. Seniors who are wrongfully denied benefits, such as access to supportive services or long term care, are prevented from getting the healthcare they need. These social determinants of health all constitute health-harming legal needs and they cannot be treated effectively without some level of legal care.
To Apply For
To apply for assistance please refer to this list of MLPs within the State of Illinois.
The medical-legal partnership (MLP) model is an approach to health that integrates the work of healthcare, public health, and civil legal aid to more effectively identify, treat, and prevent health-harming legal needs for patients, clinics, and populations.
MLPs TRAIN healthcare, public health, and legal teams to work collaboratively and identify needs upstream; TREAT individual patients’ health-harming social and legal needs with legal care ranging from triage and consultations to legal representation; TRANSFORM clinic practice and institutional policies to better respond to patients’ health-harming social and legal needs; PREVENT health-harming legal needs broadly by detecting patterns and improving policies and regulations that have an impact on population health.
The Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children is an established, research-based intervention that joins medical care, social support services, and expert legal assistance to improve care, promote better health and lower costs. Each year, our program connects hundreds of underserved and at-risk children and families in Chicago to a full range of essential health, income, educational, and developmental services and supports that ensure healthier, more productive lives. Our legal team trains and supports medical, social service, and education providers to identify barriers that have a profoundly negative impact on child health and development. Team members then meet with referred adults, children and families to resolve issues via direct representation. Finally, the project conducts systemic advocacy to reduce health and education disparities for all vulnerable children across the state. For more information, contact project director Amy Zimmerman.
Links to Important Resources
When screening a patient for an MLP referral, you can use the mnemonic IHELP: Income and Insurance, Housing and Utilities, Education and Employment, Legal Status and Veterans Affairs, and Personal and Family Stability.
To learn more about Medical Legal Partnerships, please visit the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership.