Fall 2022
The Docket
What's Inside:
Case Stories
  • Doris and Josiah
  • Virginia and Justin
  • Facts and Figures: A Look Back at Our FY '22 Cases

Policy Corner
  • Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care

Training Roundup
  • HLA Staff Conducts 99 Training Programs Over the Past Year to Advance the Cause of Health Care Justice

Pulse On Fundraising
  • 27th Annual Benefit Breakfast featuring Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

  • Our Fight Together for Health Care Justice Continues: HLA’s 2022-2023 Goals and Priorities

DEI Digest
  • HLA's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We Welcome New Staff to Our Growing Team!
Facebook  Twitter  
Dear Friends,

I hope you had a fantastic summer.

We're proud to share this edition of The Docket, which recaps our recently concluded fiscal year. Thanks to your support, we're as active as ever. In the last year, we represented more than 1,200 individuals and families, conducted 99 trainings on health care access rights, and successfully advocated for a number of important policy reforms that expand health care access across Massachusetts.

While our team is hard at work fighting for health care justice, we're also busy planning for our good ol' Annual Benefit Breakfast on November 4th. We'd love for you to join us then, back in person at the Sheraton Boston Hotel or on the livestream. If you haven't signed up yet, here's where you can.

Warm regards,

Matt Selig
Executive Director
Client Stories
Thanks to your generous support, HLA represented more than 1,200 clients in our recently completed fiscal year. Here are stories behind two of those cases. 
Doris and Josiah
Removed from his class aggressively, Josiah was put alone in a room
where he missed valuable instruction time
Doris is 8-year-old Josiah’s Mom. Doris says Josiah “has a huge heart and will do anything for his loved ones.” When Josiah was younger, he exhibited challenging behaviors and meltdowns. Doris managed to get Josiah mental health services through a community crisis center and an IEP from his school. Unfortunately, Josiah's behavior continued to escalate with aggression and property destruction.

Josiah’s school wasn’t providing him with the right accommodations or enough one-on-one attention for his mental health and learning needs. Instead, the school just removed him aggressively from the classroom and isolated him in a room alone where he missed valuable instruction time.

Doris sought help from HLA’s Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) and Staff Attorney David Satin took on her and Josiah’s case. David pinpointed the services Josiah was eligible for, such as therapeutically-based classroom services; a safety plan to prevent school removal; and functional behavioral assessments. David advocated for Josiah’s needs at his school, but also worked to find an alternative educational setting for him where Doris felt his mental health needs could be better met. Through David’s efforts Josiah enrolled in a therapeutic day school where he is getting the services he needs in a place where he can learn, thrive, and feel safe.

“HLA amplifies our voices. They give us tools we need to fight what sometimes feels like a hopeless battle. If it weren’t for David, I honestly don’t know where I would be and I want to thank him again for everything he’s done.”
- Doris
Virginia & Justin
Virginia's PCA services are critical because she relies on a wheelchair
and copes with heart failure, diabetes, and chronic respiratory failure
Virginia, a senior woman with various disabling conditions, needs numerous hours of personal care attendant (PCA) services each week to live safely in her own home. She relies on a wheelchair and copes with heart failure, diabetes, and chronic respiratory failure. MassHealth’s rules allow for family members to serve as MassHealth members’ PCAs and Virginia’s son Justin stepped into the role in addition to his other employment.

Despite MassHealth’s rules allowing family members to serve as their PCA, the insurance company that administers MassHealth’s PCA program dramatically reduced the hours of PCA services it would pay for Virginia because Justin lived in the home with her.

Virginia and Justin filed an appeal, reached out to HLA for assistance, and Staff Attorney Kara Hurvitz took on their case. Through HLA’s Protecting the Health of People with Disabilities Project, HLA specializes in securing coverage for in-home health services. Kara and her clients documented that both Virginia and Justin had unique “instrumental activities of daily living” needs, and that the hours of PCA services covered by Virginia’s insurer in the past were critically needed for her health and safety. Kara also documented the difficulty that HLA and the family had coordinating with the insurer.

In front of MassHealth’s Board of Hearings, Kara secured an agreement from the insurer to reinstate the vast majority of Virginia’s hours and to make that reinstatement retroactive to the date of the decision to reduce hours of services.

As a result, Virginia was able to get the supports she needed and Justin was able to be compensated.

“[Kara] was prompt, thoughtful, and thorough. We were never left feeling like we didn't know what was going on. If we needed information, she was easy to get hold of and always got back to us quickly and made sure we understood what was happening… We had someone on our side who knew what was what and how the system worked. Without the help we received with Kara we likely wouldn't have been able to get back the hours lost like we did.”
- Justin
Facts and Figures
A Look Back at Our FY '22 Cases

Last year, HLA handled a total of 1,289 cases, secured health insurance for 163 individuals, and had $10,254,956 in immediate economic impact for individuals and families (this includes medical debt eliminated and third-party payments for health care secured to prevent out-of-pocket charges).

Types of Cases
(cases can be listed under more than 1 type)
Children's Mental Health (includes education, insurance, state agency and juvenile justice issues): 808
Medicaid: 386
Immigrant Health: 229
Medical Debt:145
Private Insurance: 100
In Home Services for Disabled People: 52
Mental Health Parity: 51
Transgender Health: 17
Case Referral Sources
Health Care Provider: 20%
Social Service Provider: 17%
Previous Client: 13%
MassHealth Accountable Care Organization: 11%
Other Non-Profit: 11%

Government: 8%

Other Legal Services: 7%

Private Practice Attorney: 6%

Health Care For All: 6%

Internet: 3%

Other: 2%

Client Demographics
Racial/Ethnic Composition of Clients
41% White non-Hispanic
30% Hispanic/Latino
18% Black
6% Asian/Pacific Islander
5% Other
Clients by County of Residence
Middlesex – 23%
Suffolk – 13%
Worcester – 13%
Essex – 12%
Hampden – 10%
Norfolk – 8%
Bristol – 7%
Plymouth – 6%
Berkshire – 4%
Barnstable – 2%
Franklin - .5%
Hampshire - .5%
Dukes -- .1%
HLA contributed to a number of key policy victories over the past year as reforms we advocated for became law. Enacted measures we fought for include ones that:

  • Significantly expand health insurance coverage for immigrants;

  • Broaden access to gender-affirming health care for transgender people;

  • Reduce barriers to in-home health care for people with disabilities; and

  • Expanded rights for MassHealth members
Policy Victory Spotlight
Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care
HLA Staff Were Honored to Celebrate the Signing of the Mental Health ABC Act with Two of the Law’s Architects
Left to Right: Senator Julian Cyr, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery; Marisol Garcia, HLA Senior Director/Managing Attorney, Wells Wilkinson, Senior Supervising Attorney, and Senator Cindy Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing
On August 10, Governor Charlie Baker signed An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health, a sweeping law, years in the making, that targets numerous systemic barriers to treatment that HLA clients have been facing. The law includes major provisions that:

  • Combat emergency department “boarding,” which is when those with acute mental illness get stuck in emergency departments because no appropriate level of care is accessible;
  • Protect kids from unreasonable school expulsions due to unmet mental health needs;
  • Mandate that state regulators ensure full compliance with state/federal mental health parity laws;
  • Expand the mental health care workforce; and
  • Require coverage for previously excluded mental health services.

The enactment of the Mental Health ABC Act was all the more momentous because it was four years in development across two legislative sessions. In 2018, a report published by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation found that 56.8% of Massachusetts adults who sought mental health or substance use care had difficulty obtaining such care. This, and countless other data points and personal stories from consumers and other mental health system stakeholders, inspired the movement for legislative reform. We enthusiastically applaud members of the Massachusetts Senate and House who worked hard to develop and pass this legislation. HLA staff were proud to provide input and support for this law over the past four years while working in collaboration with our fellow members of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign, the Massachusetts Mental Health Coalition, and The Kennedy Forum
HLA Staff Conducts 99 Training Programs Over the Past Year to Advance the Cause of Health Care Justice
In addition to providing pro bono legal assistance to more than 1,200 clients and advocating for major policy reforms, HLA also advances our mission by conducting outreach and training programs. In our most recent fiscal year, our team conducted an amazing 99 training programs throughout the state. 

These programs are specifically tailored for consumers in low-income situations, as well as health, social service, and legal service providers. For the convenience and safety of our outreach and training program attendees, most of these events were conducted online over the past year, though some were in person. Audience sizes ranged from small groups of just a few to more than 100 people.

The topics of our outreach and training programs tie into our priority programs. For example, HLA’s Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids staff conducted dozens of sessions in the past year on children’s rights to mental health services with guidance on how to overcome barriers to mental health services. Meanwhile, our Access to Care and Coverage team conducted numerous programs on accessing health care through MassHealth, including many dedicated to issues specific to immigrants. Not only do these programs educate community members about health care access rights, but they increase HLA’s visibility and lead to many requests for assistance from our team.
Pictured above: MHAP for Kids Staff Attorney Elisabeth Chee conducts a training for more than 25 providers and parents in the greater Lowell area on “What Do Parents Need to Know About the Juvenile Justice System?” The criminal system can be confusing for families who have never had contact with the courts and this training was intended to de-mystify the criminal juvenile courts.
27th Annual Benefit Breakfast
Friday, November 4, 2022
Sheraton Boston Hotel
A livestream will be available
Featuring Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor.  

Dr. Kendi is the author of many highly acclaimed books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest ever winner of that award. He has also produced five straight #1 New York Times bestsellers, including How to Be an Antiracist, Antiracist Baby, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored by Jason Reynolds. In 2020, Time magazine named Dr. Kendi one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was awarded a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Genius Grant. In June, Dr. Kendi released How to Raise an Antiracist and the picture book, Goodnight Racism
Buy Tickets or Sponsor
Corporate Packages
Individual Packages
27th Annual Breakfast Co-Chairs
Melissa Wong
Partner at
Holland & Knight LLP
Andrew Fuqua
Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Cambridge Health Alliance
Rising Attorneys Events Committee
Mikaela Taberner,(Chair of Rising Attorneys Events Committee), Beth Israel Lahey Health
Amara Anosike, Boston Children's Hospital
Jessica Beglin, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Anna Gurevich, Hinckley Allen
Marylana Saadeh Helou, Epstein Becker & Green
Sharon Jaquez, Ropes & Gray
Patrick Ouellette, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo
Allie Shalom, Foley & Lardner
Vineesha Sow, Murphy Hesse
Steve Tringale, Husch Blackwell
With Your Support, Our Fight Together for
Health Care Justice Continues
HLA’s 2022-2023 Goals and Priorities
Mental Health Access for Youth

Our Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) is playing a crucial role protecting the health of our state’s children and families during the escalating national children’s mental health crisis. Our 12 MHAP for Kids staff attorneys, based in cities across the state, represent more than 800 families annually. Their dynamic legal representation improves kids’ health and keeps them in school and out of the hospital and the court system.  
Eliminating Medical Debt

HLA’s Medical Debt Initiative tackles one of our Country’s and state’s leading obstacles to health care and financial survival. Medical debt also disproportionately harms Black and Hispanic people. Hundreds have come to HLA during the pandemic for help with unaffordable and unjust medical bills while struggling to pay for housing and food. Later in 2022, HLA will have its first staff attorney focused entirely on combatting medical debt, a Fellow sponsored by Justice Catalyst. 
Medical-Legal Partnership for Immigrants

HLA’s Medical-Legal Partnership for Immigrants (MLPI) expands our representation of immigrants with financial insecurity across the state. In collaboration with health care provider and immigration attorney partners, we are pushing back against a myriad of impediments to health care facing immigrants through our representation of more than 230 families annually and successful advocacy for major policy changes. Current MLPI partners Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Health Care For the Homeless Program, and The Rian Immigrant Center are building this growing program with us.
Health Care for People with Disabilities

Health care services provided in the home protect the independence, health, and safety of people with disabilities. However, far too often access to these services, such as those provided by independent nurses and home health aides, is blocked. HLA specializes in representing consumers with disabilities who’ve been denied access to these services and advocates for changes in policy to eliminate unjust denials.   

Transgender Health Care Access

HLA’s award-winning allyship with the transgender community focuses on fighting for access to gender-affirming health care. We are forcefully advocating on behalf of transgender and gender diverse clients against pervasive and unjust barriers to these vital health services, and we are doing so as a bulwark amid rising and hateful discrimination against transgender people across the country.  
Racial Justice and Equity in Health Care

Momentum is building in Massachusetts to address longstanding and unacceptable racial and ethnic disparities in health care. HLA is committed to being part of this movement. This work cuts across our other programs, which focus on health care access issues where BIPOC consumers experience the most harm, and stands alone to address systemic health care discrimination beyond our program areas. 

HLA's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We would love to thank HLA’s current DEI Committee Chair, Caitlin Reed, for her incredible service this year, and our subcommittee leads Rebecca Wilson (Organizational Development subcommittee), Aashna Parikh (Outreach & Community Partnerships subcommittee), and Kara Hurvitz (Training & Capacity Building subcommittee)!

As we enter our third year of our DEI committee, we are thrilled to share that we have two new Co-Chairs, Staff Attorneys, Kara Hurvitz and Kendal Poirier, who will be leading our DEI efforts. We are are also adding a stipend for the co-chairs to recognize the value of this work to our organization.

Some of the DEI Committee’s efforts this past summer involved training for staff, which included topics such as:

  • A three-part training focused on trauma-informed care and trauma-responsive work with clients, led by Noor Toraif, from the BU School of Public Health;

  • A discussion-based training called "Confronting Nice Racism" led by one of our summer law clerks, Salomé Kassini, about subtle, often unintentional reinforcement of systematic racism against diverse persons and their communities through well-meaning actions; and

  • A training seminar and discussion led by DEI Intern Maya Phan on abortion rights and the health implications, particularly on diverse populations, of the recent U.S Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
We Welcome New Staff to Our Growing Team!
Jennifer Cedor
Staff Attorney

Jennifer is a new staff attorney on our Access to Care and Coverage Team! Prior to HLA, Jennifer worked at the Massachusetts Trial Court’s Boston Court Service Center providing access to justice to self-represented litigants. In this capacity, Jennifer assisted marginalized and underserved litigants in navigating the judicial system in various Probate and Family and Housing Court matters. Before joining the Boston Court Service Center, Jennifer worked as a Public Defender with the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in the Mental Health Litigation Division. At CPCS, she represented clients who were facing civil commitment in mental health institutions.

Jennifer received her Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School. In law school, Jennifer was a member of the Health and Biomedical Law Journal as a Symposium Editor and Vice President of the Health and Biomedical Law Society. Jennifer also earned a Bachelor of Art in Communication and Culture and from Clark University, graduating cum laude. The following year, she received her Master of Science, also at Clark University, in Communication with a concentration in Marketing. Jennifer graduated with high honors and was inducted into Alpha Epsilon Lambda—an honor society for Graduate Students. To build her background in public health and education, Jennifer completed training at the Boston Public Health Commission’s Community Health Education Center, where she became a certified Community Health Educator.
Health Law Advocates
One Federal Street | Boston, MA 02110 | 617.338.5241 | www.healthlawadvocates.org
Facebook  Twitter