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We won’t go back to 1964!

Posted by on Nov 21, 2016 in Access to health | 0 comments

We won’t go back to 1964!

In the days after the 2016 election, we have thought long and hard about likely targets with a new administration and Congress. We see a new war on the poor with the first target being access to essential healthcare.

Medicaid is the principal program that provides access to medical care to the poor in Illinois. Since 1965 as part of the War on Poverty, Medicaid has been a remarkable program, providing life-saving healthcare for low-income Americans. And, the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA or ObamaCare) expanded Medicaid to single, childless adults living at or near poverty.

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Tilting toward justice

Posted by on Nov 9, 2016 in Advocacy | 0 comments

Tilting toward justice

No matter what, the Legal Council will continue to stand firm, fight, and never give up. As an agency that serves people with legal problems impacting their well-being, we are resolved to continue our work toward justice and dignity. We have already heard from clients who are concerned that their medications will be taken away in the coming days. We will continue—as we have done for almost three decades—to advocate for the rights of our clients and work hand-in-hand with our partners across the state and nation.

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5 Things I learned from Kate (or trauma-informed care 101)

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Access to health | 0 comments

5 Things I learned from Kate (or trauma-informed care 101)

Legal advocate Kate Miller travels all over the city to meet with clients who are homeless with severe mental illness. She helps them get disability benefits. One Wednesday, I tagged along to see her work in action. It was a day full of perspective. Here are just five of the things I learned:

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Making breathing easier

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in Advocacy | 0 comments

Making breathing easier

Legal Council for Health Justice, Chicago Asthma Consortium, and Respiratory Health Association worked collaboratively last session on a new law to  help schools prepare for serious asthma attacks in school.  The legislation (Public Act 99-0843) requires the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a model emergency response protocol, and for school districts to implement their emergency protocols by January 1, 2017. Asthma is a common chronic lung condition that can be controlled through proper medication management and trigger avoidance. It is a leading cause of school absenteeism. Children with asthma miss twice as many school days as other children, on average. “In Illinois, nearly 1 in 6 children have asthma, but over 76% of those children do not have their asthma under control,” said Stacy Ignoffo, Director of Chicago Asthma Consortium. “Asthma that is not controlled properly can lead to asthma emergencies in the school setting, as well as increased emergency department visits and hospitalizations.”...

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Some gain, still pain

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Advocacy | 0 comments

Some gain, still pain

Illinois’ Stopgap Budget Offers Only Temporary, Partial Relief to Medicaid Recipients and Their Healthcare and Human Services Providers — joint statement from Legal Council for Health Justice and Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

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Justin’s 25 for 25

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in HIV-AIDS, Home Page Sliders | 0 comments

Justin’s 25 for 25

June 1, 2016 Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues: In my first week at AIDS Legal Council, almost exactly 25 years ago, I took two calls back to back.  First, a successful LaSalle Street banker told me that after his landlord found out he had HIV, the locks on his apartment were changed, his possessions thrown in the alley, his car tires slashed.  Reeling from that conversation, I took a second call.  A man needed a simple will to ensure his meager possessions would go to his niece, the only family member who still spoke to him after he was diagnosed with HIV.  This second case seemed comparatively easy, until he handed the phone to his nurse – it turned out the man was hospitalized – who explained in hushed tones that her patient wouldn’t last the night. Within minutes I found an attorney at a big law firm who promised to “wipe the floor with that rental agency” (she did, and charged nothing, like so many attorneys over the years).  Then the legal director and I jumped on the train to see our hospitalized client.  He’d been a day laborer all his adult life.  Now he was exhausted and emaciated – there was almost nothing left of him.  We completed his will, and as we were leaving he said to me, “I think that’s the only thing in my life I ever finished.” That was a typical day in the early years of AIDS Legal Council.  The mistreatment of people with HIV was rampant, pernicious, and widespread.  In addition to daily indignities, people with HIV faced extremely uncertain futures.  Our clients and colleagues died with numbing regularity. Today, as I’m about to celebrate 25 years as a legal advocate with the Council – July 1 is the official anniversary date – the outlook for most people with HIV is very different.  Someone diagnosed with HIV can now reasonably expect a normal lifespan.  This sea change is due not only to advances in medicine but, just as importantly, advances in social service advocacy.  It’s taken an army of lawyers, paralegals, social workers, case managers, peer educators, activists, and advocates to stabilize the lives of people with HIV, especially when those lives are hobbled by generational poverty, mental illness, and governmental neglect.  Without a stable life, you can’t make regular doctor appointments, adhere to a complicated pharmaceutical regimen, or access the medical care that can save your life. Once upon a time, the Council helped people die with dignity.  These days we help people build better lives.  But even with unfettered access to state-of-the-art medical care and expert social services, the odds are stacked against most of my clients.  The substandard education they received, the debilitating effects of institutionalized racism they endure, the still-pervasive animus directed against them simply because they harbor a particular retrovirus, all conspire to give them far less than a fair chance at full, productive lives. But I believe my clients deserve that fair chance – and that I’m obliged to create the opportunity for them to take it.  And that’s precisely what we do today.  We help our clients secure income, employment, health insurance, education, disability benefits, and medical care.  We protect their right to confidentiality.  We fight byzantine bureaucracies to make sure our clients can...

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CHECK it out!

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Advocacy, Child health | 0 comments

CHECK it out!

University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) recently informed us that the Legal Council was chosen to establish a program at UIC to provide legal services to children who are cared for through the Coordination of Healthcare for Complex Kids (CHECK) program. This will allow the Council to grow our children’s program and hire additional legal staff to handle the significant demand. We will be able to bring on an additional attorney and two paralegals for the CHECK program.

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Slip in the name of asthma

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Advocacy | 0 comments

Slip in the name of asthma

The Help Schools Become Better Equipped to Handle Asthma Emergencies (HB6333) is now in the Illinois Senate and scheduled to be heard in the Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee on Tuesday, May 10th, at 2:00pm. HB6333 would ensure that schools are able to handle asthma emergencies. In the event of an asthma emergency, school staff would have a quick-reference document to follow proper protocol. We have attached a fact sheet with some additional information about the bill. HB6333 Fact Sheet We hope you will consider filing a witness slip in support of the bill. You can file a witness slip here....

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Give him liberty

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Advocacy | 0 comments

Give him liberty

The Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the Chicago Bar Association names our very own Justin Hayford its “2016 Liberty Bell Award Winner.” This annual award honors a non-lawyer each year who works in the legal system on behalf of the most disadvantaged.

For twenty-five years Justin has been a case manager and paralegal at AIDS Legal Council (now a program of Legal Council for Health Justice). During his quarter century of service, Justin has tirelessly advocated on behalf of low-income people with HIV who have nowhere else to turn for legal assistance. He has has directly impacted the lives of thousands of clients, trained countless groups of service providers and legal professionals in HIV law, testified before legislative bodies, and taken on various state and local bureaucracies on behalf of his clients.

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Client Focus: Hatim

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hatim, an HIV-positive man with limited English skills, first came to AIDS Legal Council after he sustained a devastating injury at his job as a butcher, and was unable to continue working. Hatim’s dominant hand had been caught in a meat grinder; as a result, he lost fingers and suffered extensive bone and nerve damage to his hand and arm. With three minor children at home, a prognosis of 12 to 18 months for rehabilitation, and no other job skills or training, Hatim’s future was unclear. He applied for Social Security disability benefits, but was denied initially because he had been disabled for only 6 weeks at the time of application. Upon reapplication, he was denied again because his wife’s self-employment earnings were mistakenly reported under his name and Social Security number. Meanwhile, Hatim struggled to perform daily living tasks with his remaining hand and, not surprisingly, developed depression, insomnia, and flashbacks from the accident. He was in near-constant pain from the accident, and because of existing medical conditions—high blood pressure and HIV—was worried about the impact medication to treat the depression would have on his overall health. Our attorney worked with Social Security to correct the self-employment reporting error, and argued successfully that Hatim’s medical conditions, education, and skills combine to prevent him from sustainable work. Because of our attorney’s advocacy and persistence in his case, Hatim was awarded disability benefits as well as supplemental benefits for his children. He now has help to cover some basic expenses and provide a bit of stability to his children’s...

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