Summer 2021
The Docket
What's Inside:
  • HLA Update on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work

  • Save the Date: 26th Annual Benefit Breakfast

  • State Increases Investment in HLA's MHAP for Kids

  • At the Urging of HLA and Other Advocates, MassHealth Estate Changes Recovery Policy

  • HLA awarded $100,000 from the Cummings Foundation

  • HLA Staff News

  • Thank You to our Summer Interns
Dear Friends,

I hope you are having an enjoyable summer.

While many members of our team have taken some well-deserved time off in recent months, HLA has been extremely busy overall Fighting for Health Care Justice. In 2021, we've already represented 700 clients with difficulties accessing health care, in addition to our work advocating for policy reforms, and running health care access trainings for thousands of advocates and consumers.

Next month, we are looking forward to reopening our Boston headquarters after a year and a half working entirely from our homes. Our field offices throughout the state, where our attorneys with our Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids work, are already open. Given how productive our staff has been working from their home offices, we are adopting a hybrid model enabling our staff to work from home as well as the office. It will be an exciting time for us to reconnect in person, and meet some of our colleagues in person for the first time(!), after Zooming our way through the past 17 months.

We are pleased to share the following updates with you and welcome any feedback you may have.

Warm regards,

Matt Selig
Executive Director
HLA Update on
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work
HLA is proud of the work we've done so far to adopt more inclusive language and become an anti-racist organization. We also recognize that the road is long and takes constant effort to live up to our DEI values within our organization and in our advocacy work.

Since the launch of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee in August 2020, HLA has made the following advances:

  • In November 2020, Foley & Lardner joined as our Pro Bono Partner for Racial Justice. Through HLA's Pro Bono Legal Network, they have dedicated pro bono resources and financial support toward combating systems that oppress people of color and immigrants.
  • In Spring 2021, HLA hired 4 paid summer legal interns and 1 paid DEI intern to help with capacity-building (see below for more info on our summer interns).

  • In Summer 2021, HLA developed a DEI training calendar with external consultants to facilitate discourse and difficult conversations, and hosted our first staff retreat as a result.

  • In Summer 2021, our DEI Committee and Senior Management Team developed and adopted a new Equity Recruitment and Hiring Policy to expand our efforts to reach the most qualified and diverse pool of candidates for positions on HLA's staff.
Save the Date:
Tuesday, November 16
HLA's 26th Annual Benefit Breakfast
A virtual celebration
Keynote Speaker: Amy Tan
Last year, we celebrated a number of milestones including our Silver Anniversary and our first ever virtual Benefit Breakfast. The event was a roaring success: we celebrated a quarter-century of Fighting For Health Care Justice with over 400 guests and heard from civil rights titans, Dr. Angela Davis and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. It was a magical morning and we are excited to host another inspiring morning on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 for HLA's 26th Annual Benefit Breakfast.

We hope to see you in what we hope will be our last virtual celebration because there is no substitute for seeing our amazing friends and supporters in person. We have an incredible program planned, including a keynote from legendary author, Amy Tan. Her work has left a lasting footprint in literature and has played a role in uplifting the Asian American Pacific Islander stories in the mainstream. She also has deep, personal connections to our mission, including co-founding LymeAid 4 Kids, which helps uninsured youth pay for treatment, after being diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

As the Fall approaches, please keep an eye out for more information about our upcoming Benefit Breakfast, including our sponsors, but for now, please save the date! If you're interested in donating or sponsoring now, click here or email Jennifer Javier, Manager of External Engagement at
We are also thrilled to announce our
Benefit Breakfast Event Committee
Event Co-Chairs
Krietta Bowens Jones
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Kate Eshghi
UMass Memorial Health Care
Ellen Weinstein
BMC HealthNet Plan / Well Sense Health Plan
Rising Attorneys Event Committee
Amara Azubuike
Boston Children's Hospital

Anna Gurevich
Hinckley Allen

Mikaela Taberner
Beth Israel Lahey Health
Caroline Donahue
UMass Memorial Health Care

Marylana Saadeh Helou
Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

Vineesha Sow
Murphy Hesse Toomey & Lehane LLP
HLA's MHAP for Kids Earns
Increased State Investment
We are pleased to let you know that HLA is expanding our Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids). This expansion comes at a time when MHAP for Kids is needed more than ever because of a community-wide mental health crisis significantly exacerbated by the pandemic. As the Boston Globe reported this week, “(t)his is a crisis on top of a crisis,” said Dr. Jacob Venter, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance. “The pandemic has really exacerbated everything, made everything a lot worse.”

The Globe article describes what our MHAP for Kids attorneys across the state see every day in their work amid COVID-19. More and more children are experiencing such acute mental illness that they need emergency treatment. Once at the emergency department, many children wait for extraordinary lengths of time, months in some cases, before receiving the mental health services they need. MHAP for Kids' attorneys help families overcome the numerous barriers that cause these wait times in hospitals and a multitude of other barriers that prevent children from receiving mental health services.

MHAP for Kids' expansion this summer is made possible by increased state investment in the program. On July 16th, Governor Baker signed the state's FY '22 budget, including a $1.5 million allocation for MHAP for Kids. We are grateful for the Baker Administration's support of this funding which will enable us to represent more families and help more children receive the services they need. Already during the pandemic, MHAP for Kids has represented more than 510 families.

We would love to thank Senate President Karen Spilka and Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues for initiating the increase in funding for MHAP for Kids in the FY '22 budget and their dedication to children with mental health needs.

HLA is also especially thankful to Senate Ways and Means Committee Vice Chair Senator Cindy Friedman for leading the way in the budget process to secure funding in this year's budget to expand MHAP for Kids and for her unyielding commitment to mental health access. 

We are also thankful for the strong support of House Speaker Ronald Mariano and House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz for their strong support for this year's increased funding for MHAP for Kids and, most importantly, for all children with mental health needs, especially during this period of growing hardship.

The funding provided for MHAP for Kids in the state budget is complemented by significant support from grants.

MHAP for Kids is supported by:

A lead grant from:
Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation

And generous grants from:
Cummings Foundation
Mabel Louise Riley Foundation
Theodore Edson Parker Foundation
Fish Family Foundation
MA Covid-19 Relief Fund of the Essex County Community Foundation
Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts
Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation
John W. Alden Trust
Greater Lowell Community Foundation
Bennett Family Foundation

Generous support for this work has also been provided by Boston Children’s Hospital and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and many more corporate and individual sponsors.
At the Urging of HLA and Other Advocates,
MassHealth Changes Estate Recovery Policy
Marking an important policy reform for consumers supported by HLA, MassHealth recently issued new regulations governing its "estate recovery" program. Estate recovery is the process MassHealth uses to recoup expenses paid as benefits to members over the age of 55 after their death. The federal government requires state Medicaid programs to conduct estate recovery, but states may choose which expenses to recoup.

Over the years, HLA has worked with many families facing enormous financial claims by the state against deceased family members' estates, including liens being placed on family homes. These claims imperiled many families with few financial resources. We are also deeply concerned that this policy impacts the accumulation of assets by BIPOC families in particular. HLA has advocated for reforms to this policy for a number of years to protect consumers.

In response to our advocacy along with other allied organization, MassHealth proposed new estate recovery regulations earlier this year. HLA submitted formal comments in response to the proposal and in May, MassHealth finalized the new rules. Among the important changes are that the new rule expands grounds for hardship waivers for surviving family members and exempts recovery from estates valued at $25,000 or less. HLA's attorneys will ensure that these policies are implemented as intended as we represent clients who have lost family members who relied on MassHealth to access health care after turning 55..
HLA awarded $100,000 from the Cummings Foundation
We are thrilled to announce that HLA is one of 140 local nonprofits to receive a grant of
$100,000 to $500,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program. HLA received a grant of $100,000 over 2 years.

This generous grant will fund our Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids, which will serve more than 600 families in the next year. The Cummings Foundation grant will specifically support MHAP for Kids’ Essex, Middlesex, and Suffolk County sites. 

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

Click here to read the full press release. The complete list of 140 grant winners, plus more than 800 previous recipients, is available at HLA prepared the video above for the Cummings Foundation's June 10th Grant Winner Celebration.

Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $300 million to greater Boston nonprofits.
HLA Staff News
We Welcome Newcomer...!
Caitlin Reed

Caitlin joined HLA's MHAP for Kids team in May and (virtually) sits at the the Family Resource Center in Pittsfield, serving youth and families in Berkshire, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Prior to HLA, Caitlin had a private practice focused on representing kids and parents in care and protection proceedings in Juvenile Court, as well as mediating family law matters. She has extensive experience working with trauma survivors and helping people with mental health challenges navigate the legal system. Caitlin is also active with Gender Identity Validation Services, which provides free legal assistance to gender diverse people seeking name and gender marker changes. Caitlin earned her law degree and her master’s degree in public health in 2010 from Northeastern University School of Law and Tufts University. She also has B.A. degrees in both Biology and Religion from Mount Holyoke College.
Thank You to HLA's Summer Interns!
Madison Castle
University of California Davis School of Law

Madison served as a Legal Intern on our General Legal Practice team. Madison learned about the mechanisms of advocating for coverage of individuals (such as immigrants and transgender folks), often oppressed by harmful systems and policies. Her favorite parts of the internship were learning from "kind and intelligent attorneys and paralegals here at HLA" and applying concepts and legal arguments she's learned in the classroom. In her free time, Madison enjoys reading and walking around the city!
Victoria Francois
Pennsylvania State University

Victoria served as our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Intern. Her top two projects at HLA included researching the history and scope of systemic racism within the realm of legal services; and reviewing the existing library of DEI resources and developing methods for staff to absorb and process the materials via trainings and facilitated discussion. Her favorite part of the internship was being able to combine her passions of social justice with public health. In her free time, Victoria can be found at the beach!
Zoe Krey
Boston University School of Law
Zoe served as a Legal Intern on our General Legal Practice team. Her top projects at HLA included researching MassHealth billing for out-of-state services and researching the ways in which COVID has affected consumer access to COBRA. Her favorite part of the internship was interacting with clients and contributing to potential solutions to their health insurance problems. In her free time, Zoe enjoys oil painting and meditation.
Madeline Reyes
Boston University School of Law

Madeline served as a Legal Intern on our MHAP for Kids team. Her top two projects at HLA were working on a memorandum researching Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) Custody Rights and reviewing a few sets of records to help cases get started. Her favorite part about her internship was how much she learned and worked on to make a meaningful difference in clients’ lives.
Jasmine Williams
New England Law Boston

Jasmine served as a Legal Intern on our MHAP for Kids team. Her top two projects at HLA included building an internal Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) decision database and coalition work on curbing the school-to-prison pipeline. Her favorite part about her internship was the hands-on experience and learning from our versatile (amazing) attorneys! A fun fact about Jasmine is she has a horse named Precious in Georgia.
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