Wal-Mart Launches Medical-Legal Partnership to Aid Low-Income Families
Posted Jul 5, 2011 6:41 AM CST
By Molly McDonough
Starting on its home turf in Arkansas, but with plans to expand the program, Wal-Mart's legal department is providing free legal services for patients at the Arkansas Children's Hospital.
The medical-legal partnership is being touted as the first such partnership between a large corporate legal department and a major hospital.
General Counsel Jeff Gearhart tells CNN Money that the retailer's 142 lawyers are being trained to help patients navigate the complexities of Medicaid. In addition to properly filling out forms, the lawyers expect to help families procure insurance for expensive treatments and medical devices such as specialized wheelchairs.
The company's lawyers will also help families get access to special education services, resolve disputes with utility companies, and address landlord-tenant issues.
Citing ABA data, CNN Money reports that medical-legal partnerships, or MLPs, serve patients in 200 hospitals and clinics nationwide. Advocates for MLPs believe Wal-Mart's commitment may encourage other legal departments to follow suit.
"Wal-Mart's commitment to a medical-legal partnership [could] make it possible to expand critical free legal services to many more children and families," Kelly Scott-Flood, project director with the ABA's Medical-Legal Partnerships Project, is quoted saying.
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