The Georgia House of Representatives recognized Georgia State University College of Law and its Health Law Partnership (HeLP) at the state capitol on Feb. 24 with a resolution and a bill recognizing medical-legal partnerships.
During the session, House Resolution 1549 was read on the floor honoring Georgia State Law’s HeLP Legal Services Clinic and the 10-year sustained community collaboration with Atlanta Legal Aid Society and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to improve social and economic conditions that affect the health of low-income children. Since its inception in 2004, HeLP has assisted more than 6,000 low-income children.
“Through HR 1549 and HB 910, we’re hopeful that more medical-legal partnerships can be created around the state,” says Sylvia Caley (J.D. ’89), associate clinical professor, co-associate director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic and director of the Health Law Partnership. “While HeLP and our clinic work specifically with children, these partnerships can benefit all low-income Georgians struggling with issues that affect their health.”
Drafted in Caley’s Health Legislation and Advocacy class last fall, House Bill 910 would create a certification process for collaborative medical-legal partnerships, while encouraging development of more.
Bryan Jacoutot (J.D. ’14), Kimberly Ramseur (M.P.H. ’15) and state Rep. Trey Kelley (J.D. ’14) worked on the legislation before it was introduced this session.
Kelley of Cedartown sponsored the bill with Rep. Sharon Cooper of Marietta, chair of the House Health and Human Services committee; and Rep. Rick Jasperse of Jasper, committee vice chair.
“This legislation will not only save important state Medicaid dollars, but also it will provide effective health care treatment for Georgia citizens,” Kelley says.
“The HeLP Clinic acts as the front line, directly tackling the immediate legal needs of indigent children across the state,” Jacoutot says. “The advocacy and HeLP clinic courses have the same end-game of improving health outcomes in Georgia.”
HB 910 moved to the Senate on Feb. 25, where it was referred to the Health and Human Services committee.
“Partnerships, such as this, do tremendous work throughout the nation, yet in some areas they are not as easily accessible as others,” Ramseur says. “Georgia only has two such medical-legal partnerships, but would be better served if more were established. Overall, this has been a very rewarding experience, and I have learned so much throughout the process. I look forward to seeing what happens next with the bill.”
In addition to HeLP, the other medical-legal partnership is at Floyd Medical Center with Georgia Legal Services in Rome. Another is forming at the University of Georgia School of Law with Athens-area health care providers.