Need Help? (410) 625-9409

Access to Health and Public Benefits

Pregnant woman meeting with nurse in clinic to discuss pregnancy

Many barriers keep people from getting the care they deserve. Medicaid does not cover dental care for adults. Some healthcare providers fail to provide language interpreters to those in need. Maternal health providers often aren’t trained to be culturally sensitive to expectant Black mothers. These are just a few of the ways that our healthcare systems fail our communities, and in particular, fail people of color.

The Public Justice Center uses legal tools to reform these systems. We advocate to protect and expand eligibility for healthcare coverage and access to appropriate, affordable, effective and culturally competent healthcare. We seek to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes and access to benefits.

Here’s what we’re working on:

Impact

Together with the Reproductive Health Equity Alliance of Maryland, worked with the Maryland Department of Health to establish the Doula Technical Assistance Advisory Group, which draws on leadership and insight from birth workers, researchers, advocates, and people with lived experience and aims to lay a foundation for equitable and inclusive voluntary doula certification and Medicaid and private insurance reimbursement for doulas. Expanding funding and access to community-based doulas can help address racial disparities in maternal healthcare. As a result of our advocacy, Maryland is set to join a handful of states in providing doula Medicaid reimbursement in early 2022. 

Worked in coalition with End Medical Debt Maryland to successfully advocate for the passage of the 2021 Medical Debt Protection Act, a strong foundation for protecting low-income Marylanders’ livelihoods, homes, and potential for intergenerational wealth transfer from harmful hospital medical debt collection practices.

Worked with the Maryland Hepatitis Coalition and Marylanders Against Poverty to expand access to access to Hepatitis C medication, successfully advocating to remove a requirement that Maryland Medical Assistance beneficiaries have liver damage in order to be eligible for treatment. To learn more about this advocacy and the barriers to accessing Hepatitis C treatment through Maryland’s Medicaid program, check out the video from this Justice for Breakfast presentation.

Filed a lawsuit that compelled the State of Maryland to eliminate a backlog of over 9,000 Medicaid applications for people with disabilities and agree to promptly process all applications going forward.

Filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service after a local Kool Smiles dental office failed to provide an interpreter to a Deaf client. The complaint resulted in Kool Smiles implementing a number of changes to ensure that its employees accommodate Deaf and hard of hearing clients at its 125 locations across the country.