Montana Health Justice Partnership – Part 1

Project Term: 24 months; Ended 2017
Grant Amount: $100,000

The Montana Health Justice Partnership (MHJP) – a collaboration between the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA), the Montana Primary Care Association, and four Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (CHCs) – provides legal assistance to patients in some of Montana’s most rural and isolated communities. MHJP’s model, a medical-legal partnership that explicitly engages both community health centers and the Primary Care Association, is the first of its kind in the United States and an emerging model for future medical-legal partnerships.

Through implementing this new partnership, the MLSA was able to provide legal services to rural and isolated communities addressing issues that impact health and well-being, and helping these rural patients live healthier lives. The grant allowed a strong, new partnership to form and enabled the partners to create systems that are integrated into the workflow of CHCs. The partnership has resulted in an increase of legal services in counties where partner CHCs are located: 168% increase in Cascade County, 177% increase in Hill County, and 184% increase in Lincoln County. The increase in Yellowstone County was minimal, largely because MLSA already had an office in Billings and since the migrant farmworker population served by the Billings CHC is much harder to reach and will require additional time to build trusting relationships.

The MHJP achieved national prominence over the course of this grant. In 2016 and 2017, partners were invited to present at the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP) Annual Summit in Washington, D.C., and were included in a small cohort of national leaders under a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation research initiative to study medical-legal partnership operations and dynamics. In addition, MHJP was approached to be part of a collaboration between NCMLP and the Network for Public Health Law with a goal to provide expertise in public health law to partners working on medical-legal partnerships and be a conduit for best-practices. MHJP will also be featured in a case study series that NCMLP will develop and release over 2017-18. The MHJP team will continue to play a leadership role with other state organizations nationally to support the development and implementation of a statewide strategy to build sustainable medical-legal partnerships.

Project Materials:

MLSA Referral Process
MLSA and Montana Primary Care Association MOU
MHJP Health Harming Legal Needs and Social Determinants of Health Training
MHJP Authorization for Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information
MHJP Authorization to Release Case-Related Information
MHJP Screening Tool

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