Earlier this month, NLSLA’s Deputy Director Yvonne Mariajimenez, who will take the helm as executive director in September, was invited to speak at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco. NLSLA was one of two legal services groups invited to present at the event, which was intended to raise awareness of the impact the Legal Services Corporation makes in people’s lives through the work of organizations it funds throughout the country.
Mariajimenez focused her presentation on the organization’s health work.
“I wanted to highlight a case that showcases the impact that legal services can have when it combines individual representation with impact litigation,” Mariajimenez said.
She told the audience about a lawsuit that came out of the Health Consumer Center, one of NLSLA’s major health advocacy projects and the largest member in a network of nine consumer assistance programs operated by community-based legal services organizations across the state of California. Through the HCC, NLSLA offers free assistance online, over-the-phone or in-person at independent community-based offices throughout the state, helping people who are struggling to get health coverage and resolve problems with their health plans.
While many of NLSLA’s individual case come through the HCC, it also gives the organization a front-row view of emerging systemic issues that NLSLA tries to address through policy advocacy, but sometimes must litigate.
“The lawsuit, which ultimately halted wrongful Medi-Cal terminations for thousands of people, is a great example of how we identify and address problems that threaten to harm more people than we could possibly help individually,” she said.