CLSMF and Grace Medical to Continue Holistic Mission

CLSMF has recently received renewed funding from the Florida Bar Foundation to continue the Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) with Grace Medical Home (GRACE). Through this partnership, staff at Grace screen patients for health-harming legal needs and refer patients to CLSMF attorneys to resolve their legal issues.

The MLP began in March 2018, when CLSMF MLP attorneys trained GRACE staff to recognize the legal problems that could interfere with a patient’s health. In nine months, 150 patients were identified and CLSMF was able to give advice, draft legal documents, and provide full representation in public benefits cases for qualifying patients.

The outcomes of this partnership make a dramatic impact on the lives of patients like Trevor, who suffers from blindness, high blood pressure, and a seizure disorder. Trevor was referred to the MLP program because he was having difficulties obtaining disability benefits. Due to his increased loss of sight, Trevor has trouble navigating his environment and cannot manage his medications properly, leading to several hospitalizations. Each time he was hospitalized, the medical staff would apply for Medicaid on Trevor’s behalf, but it was denied. Trevor and his GRACE doctors knew that residing in a long-term care facility was critical for his wellbeing but they could not obtain the financial support he needed.

When the CLSMF MLP attorney stepped in to represent Trevor, she quickly identified the issues that were causing the denials and, in September, based on CLSMF advocacy, Trevor was approved for full Medicaid benefits retroactive to his first application. The coverage reimbursed the hospital and long-term care facility for any uncompensated treatment they provided, and the new Medicaid benefits allowed Trevor to remain in the long-term care facility, giving him the ongoing care and support he needed.

The staff at Grace appreciate the partnership with CLSMF and the services the MLP program is able to provide patients. The Care Coordinator Manager at Grace, Susan Gardner, RN, states “Our MLP has been a significant resource for our patients that are seeking public benefits of any kind. Services, like disability or Medicaid, are often the final link needed to help our patients get access to care that can drastically improve their living situation leading to improved health.” 

With the renewed funding, CLSMF strives to further integrate into the Grace healthcare team to provide a holistic approach to treating health by offering solutions to legal needs. In 2019, the MLP program will continue to train Grace staff to recognize the legal issues patients may be facing and expect to increase the number of patients who receive extended services with the addition of a paralegal to the team.

Ana Montoya, Care Navigator at Grace, states “Having the MLP resource for our patients has opened up new opportunities for us to care for them beyond their physical needs. It has been a beautiful experience to see patients’ faces light up when they are told that there is someone who can help them with legal matters that impact their daily lives. Having a lawyer at our office has provided hope and direction while championing us in our mission towards caring for the whole patient.”