Medical-Legal Partnership in Primary Care: Moving Upstream in the Clinic
American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, March 2017, DOI: 10.1177/1559827617698417
Posted: 22 Feb 2018 Last revised: 10 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 23, 2017
Medical-legal partnership (MLP) is a health care delivery innovation that embeds civil legal aid expertise into the health care team to address health-harming legal needs for vulnerable populations at risk for poor health. The MLP approach focuses on prevention by addressing upstream structural and systemic social and legal problems that affect patient and population health. Because many unmet legal needs affect health (such as residing in substandard housing; wrongful denial of government income supports, health insurance, or food assistance; family violence; and barriers to care based on immigration status), lawyers are important members of the health care team. This review describes the MLP approach to addressing the social determinants of health, examines its benefits for improving the delivery of primary care for vulnerable patients and populations, and explores new opportunities for MLP in primary care with the advent of systems reforms driven by the Affordable Care Act.
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