H. Thomas Wells, Jr. AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION 321 N. Clark Street President Chicago, Illinois 60610 (312) 988-5109 FAX: (312) 988-5100 October 21, 2008 Dear Colleagues: Welcome to the American Bar Association. We are proud to introduce the ABA Medical-Legal Partnerships Pro Bono Support Project and pleased that you are interested in the sustainability of medical-legal partnerships and how we can work together to meet families’ basic needs. As President of the ABA, it is my honor and privilege to support important initiatives of the Association. Medical- legal partnerships represent one of the most important innovations in legal service delivery for vulnerable populations in recent years. We know that many low-income families and individuals who receive legal assistance from legal aid or pro bono attorneys have multiple needs well beyond the discreet legal issues we lawyers handle. These patients/clients confront illness that interferes with their ability to meet their basic needs. But, not every illness has a biological remedy. A family forced to choose between food and heat in the winter months cannot be treated with a prescription or a vaccination. Similarly, a child with asthma will never breathe symptom free – no matter how much medication is administered – if he or she returns from the doctor’s office to mold-infested housing, as thousands do. Medical-legal partnerships integrate lawyers in a healthcare setting to help patients navigate the complex legal system that often holds solutions to many social determinants of health – income supports for food insecure families, utility shut-off protection during cold winter months, and mold removal from the home of asthmatic children. Doctors and lawyers are now partnered at over 120 hospitals and health centers nationwide, serving children, the elderly, patients with cancer, pregnant women, the formerly incarcerated reentry community and other vulnerable populations. Medical-legal partnerships receive pro bono assistance from dozens of law firms and lawyers across the U.S. Medical-legal partnerships are also smart business for hospitals. Partnerships nationwide have recaptured millions of dollars for hospitals through the successful appeal of wrongly denied Medicaid and Social Security Disability applications. Families get the insurance coverage they need and, through it, access to preventive primary care, while hospitals save money. And, the ABA is doing its part. This year we established through a special ABA Enterprise Fund Grant a new and innovative project in the ABA Center for Pro Bono - Medical-Legal Partnerships: Pro Bono as a Healing Art - to coordinate an ABA-based national medical-legal partnership pro bono support initiative. Best wishes to each of you, and thanks for all you do to help the less fortunate among us. Sincerely yours, H. Thomas Wells, Jr.
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