The Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) recently received a grant from the Jerry Metcalf Foundation in support of a staff attorney who provides services free of charge to Montanans living in poverty with health-harming civil legal needs whose solutions lay outside the boundaries of medicine and in the justice forums. These patient/clients are referred through on-site monthly office hours at four Community Health Center partners throughout Montana.
The Montana Health Justice Partnership is designed to help low-income people access legal services in order to address their health-harming legal needs: a veteran wrongfully denied nutritional supports through veterans benefits whose medical conditions worsens from lack of food; a family who lives in housing with mold and whose child has asthma; a senior denied long-term care which prevents her from getting the health care she needs. Healthcare providers can try to treat the symptoms of these problems on their own, but without legal assistance they are unable to address the root cause. According to the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership, 1 in 6 people in this nation need legal care to be healthy.
The Montana Health Justice Partnership allows low-income Montanans to receive direct legal services through referral from a partner Community Health Center. These partner service providers are in a strong position to “spot” a potential legal issue during a medical service appointment and can use MLSA’s attorney as a tool to address their patients’ health problems.
The Montana Health Justice Partnership is just one way that MLSA provides equal justice to all Montanans. Civil legal aid from MLSA assures fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money a person has, and helps Montanans protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.