This project is complete!

This project has been completed thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

Visit the Project Directory to check out other projects that still need your help!

completed
Health Law Advocates

Medical Debt Initiative

Volunteer attorneys help residents in low-income situations avoid financial catastrophes.

Posted July 16, 2020

Background & Context

Volunteer attorneys serve the same clientele and help solve the same types of issues as HLA's staff attorneys. HLA established the Legal Network, a small, but mighty group of volunteers that have taken pro bono cases across the years and have expanded our capacity to serve more and more people. This project requires even more support from volunteers now as the impacts of COVID-19 are hitting our clientele the hardest both in accessing care and in financial hardships. We are helping individuals who are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic (people of color, immigrants, youth, people with disabilities, transgender people, etc.) and have been oppressed by systems barring them from the quality care they deserve.



Note: You must be licensed in MA to volunteer for this project.

Immediate Problem

Volunteers will represent victims of improper medical billing, and persons seeking charitable forgiveness of medical debt because of financial hardship.

Work & Deliverables

Volunteers will provide pro bono legal representation to low-income residents experiencing difficulty accessing or paying for needed medical services. The project provides representation to clients, and allows attorneys to advocate for health care reform. Andrew Cohen, HLA's supervising attorney, will oversee the project and provide training and supervision for volunteers.

Project Plan

Preparation Phase

  • Fill out registration form
  • Intro/Training call with volunteer manager
  • Receive newsletters outlining open cases for referral

Collaboration Phase

  • Informational Meeting with supervising attorney
  • Review Client files and ask any questions
  • Get in touch with client and work out representation agreement
  • Interview client and advocate
  • Depending on issue: write compelling letter to provider, get in touch with hospital, etc.

Wrap Up

  • Resolve medical debt by having hospital/provider/insurance forgive or absolve debt
  • Write memo to supervising attorney and volunteer manager

This project is complete!

This project has been completed thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

Visit the Project Directory to check out other projects that still need your help!

Additional Information

  • Time Commitment: 11-20 hours
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Additional Training Details: Training materials will be provided as needed by the Manager of External Engagement and the Supervising Attorney.
  • Site-Preference: Remote
  • Open to Law Students: No
  • Bar License(s) required: Massachusetts
  • Required Languages: None
  • Preferred Languages: Spanish
  • Mentoring Provided: Yes
  • Supervision Provided: Yes
Health Law Advocates

Health Law Advocates (HLA) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm whose mission is to provide pro bono legal representation to low-income residents experiencing difficulty accessing or paying for needed medical services. HLA is committed to ensuring universal access to quality health care in Massachusetts, particularly for those who are most at risk due to such factors as race, gender, disability, age, or geographic location. With its partner organization, Health Care For All, HLA combines legal expertise with grassroots organizing and policy reform to advance the statewide movement for universal health care access. We operate in three major areas: 1) Direct client representation: HLA provides high quality, free legal assistance to income-eligible Massachusetts residents having difficulty accessing health care or health insurance coverage. We also provide legal assistance to consumers with unaffordable medical debt. HLA represents individuals and litigates class-actions and impact cases. HLA specializes in: - Challenging denials of health insurance enrollment (commercial and public insurance) - Fighting denials of coverage for specific health care services (commercial and public insurance) - Protecting patients from illegal medical billing and collection practices - Obtaining access to health care through state agencies and school systems, especially for children 2. Community Education and Outreach: HLA builds knowledge in communities on how to access health care. We deliver cutting-edge information to consumers, advocates and other health care system stakeholders in trainings and presentations throughout Massachusetts. Invitations from community groups for HLA educational programs are welcome. 3. Policy Advocacy: HLA advocates for public policy reforms that help consumers access health care. We offer our legal expertise and experience working with consumers to policymakers on the state and federal levels and in all three branches of government. We also advocate for policy changes by health care institutions to enhance health care access. HLA conducts its policy advocacy in collaborations with other advocates.

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