Spring 2022
The Docket
What's Inside:
  • Advocacy to Mandate Up-to-Date Provider Directories

  • HLA and the Rian Immigrant Center Launch Two New Sites of the Medical-Legal Partnership for Immigrants

  • HLA’s Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids Empowers Others to Fight the Children’s Mental Health Crisis by Providing Training

  • Case Highlight: Fighting for Care for Clients with Disabilities

  • Thank You for Providing Pro Bono Legal Assistance to HLA

  • Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Schwartzman

  • Introducing HLA’s 27th Annual Benefit Breakfast Events Committee

  • HLA Continues Efforts to Achieve Greater Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

  • HLA Welcomes Summer Interns to Our Team!
Dear Friends,

Here at Health Law Advocates we're as active as we've ever been Fighting For Health Care Justice. Our 29th staff person will join us in a few weeks, a far cry from our (smaller, but still fantastic) 6-member staff when I started at HLA in 2005. We could never have grown our capacity to expand access to health care to this extent without all of you who support and collaborate with us. Thank you very much.

We also wish to express how deeply troubled we are with news reports indicating that a federal constitutional right to health care - specifically, the right to have an abortion - may soon be taken away by the U.S. Supreme Court. Though abortion will remain legal in Massachusetts if Roe v. Wade is overturned in the coming weeks, we are committed to supporting the cause to ensure that does not change in the future.

We are pleased to provide you with the updates below on our recent activities to expand access to health care. We hope you enjoy reading up on our work.

Warm regards,

Matt Selig
Executive Director
Advocacy to Mandate
Up-to-Date Provider Directories
On May 18th, HLA took action to address a barrier to health care that has plagued our system for far too long: inaccurate health plan provider directories. HLA and our fellow members of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign (CMHC) submitted extensive comments urging the state’s Division of Insurance (DOI) to strengthen its proposed regulations requiring accuracy in provider directories.

HLA has based its long-time advocacy for accurate provider directories on the experiences of many HLA clients who went without needed health care, or suffered delays in accessing health care, because they received a provider list from their insurer that was out-of-date or otherwise inaccurate. HLA clients needing mental health services have been among those who most frequently cannot find an available provider due to problems with provider directories.

HLA’s Senior Supervising Attorney Wells Wilkinson leads HLA’s focus on access to health care for consumers with private health insurance and mental health parity. Wells led the drafting of the CMHC’s comments along with Health Care For All’s Behavioral Health Policy Director Suzanne Curry and former Co-Director of Policy Alyssa Vangeli.

Wells also led HLA’s advocacy, again in partnership with HCFA, to support the passage of the 2019 law that requires health insurance carriers’ provider directories to be accurate and frequently updated, and also authorizes the DOI to issue the regulations enforcing the statute that HLA weighed in on last week. In addition, Wells represented the CMHC on a Provider Directory Task Force created by the 2019 law and convened by the DOI to provide recommendations for the regulations. The Task Force included representatives from various health care system stakeholders in addition to consumer advocates, such as health plans, health care providers, and employers.

The provider directories law and implementing regulations are meant to protect consumers from going through the all-too-familiar ordeal of trying to find a provider that is both in-network and currently accepting new patients. For instance, just last month, HLA tried to help a client find an available provider in Western Massachusetts, only to find that none of the providers listed as seeing patients in her town and the next town over were available to treat her. For consumers in Massachusetts who pay high costs for their health care coverage, having consistently accurate provider directories cannot happen soon enough. 
Lack of attention. Little girl trying to get mother s care while she working on laptop in kitchen_ panorama
HLA and the Rian Immigrant Center
Launch Two New Sites of the
Medical-Legal Partnership for Immigrants
Subscribers to The Docket have read before about HLA’s Medical-Legal Partnership for Immigrants (MLPI), our collaboration with The Rian Immigrant Center and hospital and health center partners. In the program, our health care provider partners refer immigrants with pressing health care needs to HLA and Rian attorneys for legal representation to help them overcome steep systemic barriers to health insurance coverage and the immigration process. The program significantly improves the health and financial stability of our clients as well as other aspects of their lives.

We are happy to provide our readers with an exciting update on the MLPI. At the beginning of 2022, we launched two new sites of the MLPI – with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. HLA and Rian worked with our wonderful provider partners to adopt systems for identifying and referring patients for legal services. The program’s staff, which includes HLA Staff Attorneys Katherine Purrington and Alexandra Warren, and Paralegals Zachary Meade, Aashna Parikh and Shannon Sullivan, have also conducted numerous training programs for our provider partners and others on immigrants’ rights in the health care and immigration systems and how to address common pitfalls in these areas. We have already achieved very positive results for many of recent our MLPI clients.

From a health care access perspective, the MLPI specializes in representing immigrants facing health challenges who’ve been unjustly denied enrollment in health insurance coverage with comprehensive benefits. This is a very common occurrence for immigrants with low-income because the law and processes that guide MassHealth coverage for immigrants are highly complex, are often misunderstood, and stand in the way of immigrants receiving the coverage they’re actually eligible for.

In fact, partly due to the complexities in our health care system, immigrants in Massachusetts are five times more likely to lack health insurance, and therefore lack access to health care, than U.S. citizens. During the continuing pandemic, when immigrants are also at greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, this shocking rate of lacking insurance is especially alarming. Though we have made considerable progress reducing the number of immigrants in our state who are needlessly uninsured, or underinsured, our MLPI program fills a critical need.

By getting our MLPI clients onto comprehensive health coverage, we improve their lives in so many ways. They can access the health care they need. They have better health outcomes. They are protected from devastating medical debt. And with health and financial stability, they can have a better quality of life.

HLA's Immigrant Health Care Access Initiative is supported by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, The Klarman Family Foundation, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, the Nord Family FoundationJill Block and Wade Rubinstein, the Fish Family Foundation, The Clowes Fund, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, and the MetroWest Health Foundation.
HLA’s MHAP for Kids Empowers Others
to Fight the Children’s Mental Health Crisis 
by Providing Training
HLA’s Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids’ (MHAP for Kids) mission is to help children overcome barriers to mental health care. The program’s 12 attorneys, each based in a different city around the state, and three paralegals have provided legal assistance to more than 720 families in the past year. Under the leadership of HLA’s Senior Director Marisol Garcia, MHAP for Kids also improves access to mental health services for kids by conducting dozens of training programs each year to promote this goal.

Over the past year, MHAP for Kids attorneys have conducted 70 trainings on a wide range of topics for groups ranging from about 10 to well over 100 attendees. Our MHAP for Kids trainings are designed to help all kinds of caretakers and child-serving professionals, including clinicians, gain the knowledge and skills needed to help children surmount obstacles to mental health care. Our trainings cover a variety of areas, reflecting the many areas of expertise of our MHAP for Kids staff, including several aspects of special education law, numerous juvenile court topics, health insurance coverage for mental health care, emergency department “boarding,” state agency services, and numerous others.

MHAP for Kids' statewide presence and service area has allowed us to provide frequent training programs in every part of the state for large and smaller local organizations. The program’s attorneys are based in Boston, Brockton, Everett, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Quincy, and Worcester. Each works within one of the state’s Family Resource Centers, a network of neighborhood assistance agencies which are a program of the Department of Children and Families.

MHAP for Kids legal services and training programs are as critically needed as they have ever been due to the full-blown children’s mental health crisis in our state and country. More and more youth are experiencing mental illness as obstacles to mental health care grow under the strain of demand.
Pictured above: MHAP for Kids Senior Supervising Attorney Eliza Presson conducts a recent training for more than 100 clinicians from Boston Children’s Hospital on strategies for helping children “boarding” in hospitals, an ongoing aspect of the children’s mental health crisis in our state. Children “boarding” refers to those who come to a hospital in crisis and end up stuck in a bed there because there are not available services at the appropriate level of care. 

Major funding for MHAP for Kids is provided by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

MHAP for Kids is also generously supported by grants from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, the Cummings Foundation, the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation, the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, the Massachusetts Probation Service, the Beveridge Family Foundation, the Harold Brooks Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee, the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, the John W. Alden Trust, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, and the Bennett Family Foundation.

Generous support for this program has also been provided by Boston Children’s Hospital, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, and many more corporate and individual supporters. 
Case Highlight:
Fighting for Care for Clients with Disabilities
In recent months, Health Law Advocates has seen an influx of cases involving reduced or denied personal care attendant (PCA) services for MassHealth members. In addition to representing these clients in appeal hearings and advocating with their health plans, HLA Attorneys Andrew Cohen and Kara Hurvitz are also engaged in advocacy with MassHealth about patterns of issues that relate to systemic problems. A key request from HLA and our advocacy partners is to ensure members’ access to comprehensive and accurate evaluations of their care needs. One recent case exemplifies the need for this effort.

Kara assisted a client in their 70’s living with disability to preserve PCA hours that had been cut during an annual review. The client's health plan dramatically reduced their hours, reasoning that because the PCA lived with the client, instrumental activities of daily living such as meal preparation and shopping should not be covered by the plan. However, Kara was able to document that both members of the household had unique needs for shopping and meals, and that the hours provided in the past were appropriate given those needs. 

Kara and the family had great difficulty coordinating with the health plan, which did not appear for the original hearing date, resulting in a longer gap in services. During the client’s appeal hearing before the Office of Medicaid Board of Hearings, Kara persuaded the health plan to reinstate the vast majority of the client's hours based on her presentation of their parallel needs. The hearing officer agreed to order the hours retroactive to the original date of the reduction to fill the coverage gap, so the client was able to get all the supports they needed and the PCA was compensated for their past work.

Kara’s advocacy was instrumental in addressing the initially inadequate evaluation for PCA services and demonstrated how this long-standing systems issue harmed the client. Because this problem is widespread within the PCA program, HLA continues to advocate, along with numerous allies, for improvements in the system to make it possible for people with disabilities “to keep their independence, stay in the community, and manage their own personal care” as the program is intended. Presenting individual cases like the one described here with regulators is central to our work representing consumers.
Thank You for Providing
Pro Bono Legal Assistance to HLA
Though HLA’s attorneys are all top-notch, we are health care lawyers and don’t always have the expertise to address all of our organization’s legal needs. As a result, at times, we benefit greatly from the generosity of fantastic attorneys in our community who donate their time to help us navigate non-health care legal issues and position us to pursue our mission.

We especially want to thank three lawyers who have contributed to HLA’s mission in significant ways by providing pro bono organizational counsel.

David Belfort, Bennett & Belfort
Nicholas V. Romanos, Foley Hoag
Jared L. Shwartz, Hinckley Allen

Volunteer Spotlight:
Karen Schwartzman
Pictured above are Karen and her life partner, Bob Melia, who split their time
between Cape Cod and Beaufort, South Carolina.
We are thrilled to spotlight HLA’s Pro Bono Paralegal, Karen Schwartzman. Karen is no stranger to HLA as she is a longtime generous supporter and has served on HLA’s Board of Directors. Her philanthropy and compassion know no bounds – not only has she served on HLA’s Board, but has also led the Board of Brighton-based DEAF, Inc. and was an active member of the Board of Pine Street Inn for 12 years.

Earlier in her professional career, Karen worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for about 13 years. She was an assistant press secretary to Governor Michael S. Dukakis in the mid-80’s, and then served as chief spokesperson for Bank of Boston before starting a crisis management consulting practice.

As a Pro Bono Paralegal with HLA since February 2021, Karen has taken on responsibilities that have made her an integral part of our team. For many of our clients, she has been the first point of contact with HLA. She screens callers on our busy intake line, improving our response times, and schedules interviews with our Intake Paralegals. She aids with a variety of key administrative duties, perhaps most importantly, processing release forms that enable us to obtain our clients’ medical and other records. Additionally, Karen assists attorneys in their representation of our clients by calling medical providers and health insurers to gather key information, and drafting correspondence to clients, medical providers, and other parties. By taking on this invaluable work, Karen is helping our paralegals and attorneys work more efficiently and effectively to address our clients’ health access needs. Karen’s volunteer work has truly been a boon to HLA.

“Karen is a real team player. She is diligent, constant, and persistent. I have worked with her for over half a year now, and I have been consistently delighted by her work ethic and positive attitude toward the mission and values of HLA. Karen, you are a huge asset to our team, and I am so delighted to be able to work with you.”
- Zachary Meade, Intake Paralegal

“Karen, your contribution to our firm requires a lot of heart and selflessness and it shows every day in your work! Thank you so much for not only providing a warm and inviting initial space for clients, but also for providing a flexible schedule for me and Zachary. As I have stated many times before (and will continue doing so), I am forever grateful for you, and I am so happy and inspired that I am able to work with someone that is so passionate and enthusiastic about our work.
Thank you for everything that you do.”
- Aashna Parikh, Intake Paralegal

“It is an absolute delight to work with you, Karen! Your deep well of experience and professionalism allows for rapid and high-quality work that undoubtedly increases HLA’s ability to best serve our clients. Your tireless, daily work has truly made you an indispensable member of our team. I am eternally grateful for the time, effort, and intelligence you lend to HLA and our clients. Thank you so much!!!”
- Andrew Cohen, Director/Lead Attorney, GLP Team
Pictured above is Karen and Bob's
dog, Millie, with a stolen sock.
Introducing HLA’s 27th Annual
Benefit Breakfast Events Committee
Save the Date!!! HLA's 27th Annual Benefit Breakfast is on Friday, November 4, 2022 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

Below is our incredible Events Committee for this year’s Breakfast!
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
Anna Gurevich, Hinckley Allen
Marylana Saadeh Helou, Epstein Becker & Green
Sharon Jaquez, Ropes & Gray
Patrick Ouellette, Mintz Levin
Allie Shalom, Foley & Lardner
Vineesha Sow, Murphy Hesse
Steve Tringale, Husch Blackwell
HLA Continues Efforts to Achieve Greater
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We are happy to share our latest updates to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts that our DEI Committee and staff have been working on:

  • An important aspect of our DEI efforts is ensuring we provide our legal services in a way that is compassionate and inclusive. Most of our clients come to us while dealing with an incredible amount of stress and trauma related to their, or a family member’s, health and/or other aspects of their lives. We want to do everything we can to alleviate some of that stress not just by providing services, but by doing it in a way that is understanding of the unique needs of people experiencing crisis. To build these skills, we are planning a training mini-series on providing trauma-informed legal services by Noor Toraif, a doctoral candidate at the School of Social Work at Boston University and a Graduate Fellow and Affiliate at the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.

  • Our summer DEI intern Maya Phan started with us on May 23. Maya is entering her second year at Saint Louis University School of Law. She will help us increase client input in our priority-setting, develop staff trainings on better supporting AAPI communities, and conduct other DEI-related research.

  • We are taking steps to promote the inclusion of local minority-owned businesses in our processes for selecting providers of goods and services for HLA.
HLA Welcomes Summer Interns to Our Team!
Camilla Bykhovsky
Boston University School of Law / School of Public Health

Camilla is a rising 3L in a dual-degree program for her J.D. and Masters in Public Health. She will be serving as a summer intern on our General Legal Practice team. She earned a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences with a concentration of Public Health from Boston University. Prior to law school, Camilla is proud to have worked as a bilingual (Spanish and English) Research Associate at the UCSF Center for Excellence in Primary Care, focusing on the reformation of healthcare policymaking within San Francisco for underrepresented and uninsured populations. After law school, she hopes to enter the field of health law, work towards health equity, and be a voice for those who feel they might not have one in this current healthcare system.
Nala Thomas
Suffolk University Law School

Nala is a second-year law student and will be serving as a summer intern on our Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) team. She earned a Bachelor’s in Political Science and History from the University of Pittsburgh. Nala earned her certificate in American Sign Language (ASL) at the University Pittsburgh and also briefly volunteered at the Center for Hearing & Deaf Services located in Pittsburgh. It is Nala’s experience working with the deaf community that inspired her to pursue health law as a career.
Maya Phan
Saint Louis University School of Law

Maya is a rising second year law student at the Saint Louis University School of law with interests in health law, public interests, policy, and ethics. She has had extensive experiences working with minority communities and health-related research. She is extremely passionate about working towards bridging the gap between minority communities and advocating for health care equity. Maya holds a Bachelor's in psychology with minors in business management and religious studies. In her spare time, Maya loves traveling, digging into a new book, and cooking new recipes!
Salomé Kyabu Kassini
Suffolk University Law School

Salomé is a rising 3L at Suffolk University Law School. She is serving as a summer intern on our General Legal Practice team. At Suffolk, Salomé has served on the Health Law Moot Court Team, earning an Honorable Mention Oral Advocate award, and as the Director of the Student Bar Association's DEI Committee. Last summer, Salomé worked as a judicial intern to the Honorable Chief Justice Kim Budd of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. She earned a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Minor in History from UMass Dartmouth. After law school, she hopes to work at the intersection of health law and litigation.
Saroj Kafiluddi 
New England Law | Boston
Saroj is a rising 3L and will be serving as a summer intern on our Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) team. She earned a Master of Laws in Commercial Law from the University of Law at Moorgate in London, and a Bachelor’s in Communications and Rhetoric, with Minors in Business Administration and Psychology, from State University of New York. Previous work experiences include working as a Legal Clerk at Holborn Chambers and a Legal Intern at Family Legal Clinic, Central Family Court, both in London.
Health Law Advocates
One Federal Street | Boston, MA 02110 | 617.338.5241 | www.healthlawadvocates.org