HeLP Awarded Two Grants

The Health Law Partnership, along with its community partners, is the recipient of two new grant awards to expand its activities in evaluating the impact of its services on clients and education on the various stakeholders.

The first grant is from the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Accelerating Health Equity, Advancing through Discovery (AHEAD) initiative. This grant was awarded to three medical-legal partnerships interested in evaluating the role of MLPs in improving community health and reducing health inequities. The initiative is intended to develop uniform measures for assessing the impact of MLPs nationwide and identify effective policies and practices of AAMC-member institutions that may be replicable at other institutions.

Sylvia Caley (J.D. ’89), director of HeLP and co-director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic at Georgia State Law; Susan McLaren, research associate with the Georgia Health Policy Center at the Georgia State Andrew Young School of Policy Studies; and Robert Pettignano, medical director of HeLP, a doctor with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and a professor of pediatrics at Emory University lead the project at HeLP. They will collaborate with colleagues from Children’s Law Center in Washington D.C. and Eskenazi Health Medical-Legal Partnership in Indiana on the project.

“Ultimately, this research will affect how we care for our patients, substantiate fiscal responsibility and value based care to the health care provider, and help us to understand how our educational endeavors are impacting our learners so that we can change the focus to upstream identification of health harming legal needs,” Pettignano said.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University are each contributing to match the funds of this grant.

The second grant is an assessment of knowledge of asthma and the use of certified asthma educators in the HeLP Legal Services Clinic. Lynda T. Goodfellow, professor and associate dean of academic affairs in the Respiratory Therapy Department at Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions, will lead the project at Georgia State, along with Caley and Pettignano. The grant will examine the understanding of law students and medical residents of National Asthma Education Prevention Program guidelines, review the current asthma education to determine whether it is provided in accordance with evidence-based practice, and identify gaps in knowledge regarding asthma education that need to be addressed.

“Over 20 percent of cases handled by HeLP involve children with asthma,” Caley said. “This grant will help to ensure law and medical students are better equipped to meet the needs of HeLP clients diagnosed with asthma, and that the children will have access to appropriate asthma care.”


HeLP By the Numbers
HeLP has been conducting research on its impact since its inception. Based on the data collected, we know that:

For 2014

HeLP handled 604 cases with 482 unique clients (parents/guardians) and 504 children.

These cases resulting in $685,000 in benefits to those clients.

Of the 504 children assisted, nearly 23% had a diagnosis of asthma, another 20% had some form of developmental delay, and 45% of children had multiple diagnoses.

Legal problems addressed included issues of family law, disability, housing conditions, ducation, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, and other public benefits.

And over the last 10 years (June 2004 through June 2014)
• HeLP stabilized 236 families, and obtained or retained secure housing for 500 families. • HeLP secured public benefits for 195 families totaling $1,146,943.

• HeLP acquired Medicaid coverage with an estimated health benefit amount of $1,258,004 based on average recipient costs published by the Georgia Department of Community Health for 164 people.

• A recent study of 50 Medicaid cases published in the Journal of Public Health Management Practice in 2012, estimated that HeLP services resulted in Medicaid payments to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in the amount of $640,291 over a 4-year period. This represents an average payment of $10,327 per recipient assisted that otherwise would have required allocating the charges to charity or indigent care.