Public Interest Lawyering: Access to Health Care
Erin Loubier and
J.D. Practicum 1081
| 3 credit hours
In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in weekly seminars and conduct related fieldwork at outside organizations. This practicum course will focus on public interest lawyering in the context of access to health care. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and also undertake 5 hours/week of fieldwork with Whitman-Walker Health.
SEMINAR: This course explores public interest lawyering and the critical role that safety net benefits play in assisting low-income people access health care in the United States. As a community health center and a medical-legal partnership, Whitman-Walker Health leverages lawyers to address health harming legal problems and improve social determinants of health for DC’s diverse urban community with special focus on people living with HIV, the LGBT community, and individuals facing barriers to health care. Using fundamental lawyering skills – client intake, counseling, outreach, negotiation, and advocacy skills, we will focus on Medicare and Medicaid – the key government programs that provide assistance to economically vulnerable people and health reform implementation as a means to offer new options and improved patient protections. Using the District of Columbia (and its surrounding jurisdictions for comparison), students will examine eligibility rules, the benefits (and coverage) provided by these programs, and legal issues that arise requiring advocacy and influencing access to health care. We will also highlight safety net programs like the DC Healthcare Alliance and prescription drug assistance programs for specialty populations like the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs.
FIELDWORK: The fieldwork part of this course will focus on assisting low-income area residents with navigating their Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit and making changes, if needed, during the annual open enrollment season. Within open enrollment, all Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to review their prescription drug needs to confirm that their particular Part D plan will meet their needs for the following year. This review process is complex and without assistance, most enrollees will not complete the process. The Medicare Part D open enrollment season illustrates the technical eligibility and benefits concepts presented throughout the semester, the complex systems that individuals must navigate in order to access care in our country, and the importance of strong client interviewing and counseling skills to educate and advise clients about these issues. Field work will include brief research and writing, client outreach and counseling, Medicare Part D case analysis, preparation for various legal clinics (Transgender Legal Clinic, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Social Security Disability, and Medicare Part D), and staffing Medicare Part D clinics. The course materials and experiential learning will provide a technical and practical foundation for students interested in pursuing a career in legal services and/or public policy affecting low income populations and their ability to access health care.
Prerequisites: Students must complete the required first-year program prior to enrolling in this course (part-time and interdivisional transfer students may enroll prior to completing Criminal Justice, Property, or their first-year elective).
Students may not concurrently enroll in this practicum and an externship, clinic, or another practicum course.
This practicum course is open to LL.M. students, space permitting. Interested LL.M. students should email Louis Fine (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request admission.
This course is suitable for evening students who can commit to attending class and working 5 hours/week (during business hours) on site at Whitman-Walker Health at 1701 14th Street NW.
This is a three credit course. Two credits will be awarded for the two-hour weekly seminar and one credit for approximately 5 hours of supervised fieldwork per week, for a minimum of 11 weeks, to be scheduled with the faculty. The supervised fieldwork must be completed during normal business hours. The two-credit seminar portion will be graded. The one credit of fieldwork is mandatory pass/fail. Students will be allowed to take another course pass/fail in the same semester as the fieldwork.
Students who enroll in this course will be automatically enrolled in both the seminar and fieldwork components and may not take either component separately. After Add/Drop, a student who wishes to withdraw from a practicum course must obtain permission from the faculty member and the Assistant Dean for Experiential Education. The Assistant Dean will grant such withdrawal requests only when remaining enrolled in the practicum would cause significant hardship for the student. A student who is granted permission to withdraw will be withdrawn from both the seminar and fieldwork components.
Default attendance rule for all practicum courses (unless the professor indicates otherwise): Regular and punctual attendance is required at all practicum seminars and fieldwork placements. Students in project-based practicum courses are similarly required to devote the requisite number of hours to their project. If a student must miss seminar, fieldwork, or project work, he or she must speak to the professor as soon as possible to discuss the absence. Unless the professor indicates otherwise, a student with more than one unexcused absence from the practicum seminar (out of 13 total seminar sessions), or one week of unexcused absences from the fieldwork or project work (out of a total of 11 weeks of fieldwork or project work), may receive a lower grade or, at the professor’s discretion, may be withdrawn from the practicum course.
||Room / Days / From-To
(CRN #: 31218)
||Loubier, Erin /