Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

New York Legal Assistance Group

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

April 2011

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

November 1, 2007 - October 31, 2009


New Yorkers with limited resources, particularly low-income individuals and immigrants, need assistance when facing the diagnosis and treatment of a serious and/or chronic illness.

These individuals face potentially life-threatening barriers, such as being denied access to public or private health insurance and therefore being denied access to treatment, surgical procedures, and medications. These underserved populations also face obstacles in the workplace that are related to a diagnosis, including denial of income, health benefits, and provisions under the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, as well as at home, such as maintaining affordable housing and threats of eviction. New York Legal Assistance Group’s (NYLAG’s) LegalHealth division leads the LegalHealth Technical Assistance Project, which seeks to strengthen existing medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) and help create new ones to better serve the needs of low-income patients with serious and/or chronic illnesses who are struggling with legal issues that could affect their health, treatment, and/or access to medical care.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Conducted outreach activities with existing legal and medical professional groups to raise awareness about the need for MLPs that serve low-income and under-resourced patients and their families.
  • Developed outreach materials to send to these legal and medical professional groups.
  • Formed the New York State Coalition of Medical-Legal Partnerships in 2008. The Coalition held a major membership meeting in 2009 to bring together lawyers, physicians, social workers, and other professionals to share experiences, ideas, best practices, and needs for going forward.
  • Drafted legislation for State legislators’ review with help from other advocates, including the UJA-Federation of New York.
  • Provided expertise, guidance, and referrals on information sharing and technical assistance activities with professional groups across New York State.