The Health and Benefits Project seeks to to protect and expand Medicaid and other public benefits that support people living in poverty. The project uses the range of legal strategies in its advocacy, including advocating before the state agencies that implement health and benefit programs, the legislators who set the law and budget, and the courts who enforce the law.
Access to Public Benefits
In 2009, the Public Justice Center filed the lawsuit Miracyle Thompson, et. al v. Brenda Donald. Done in partnership with Homeless Persons Representation Project, National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and Kirkland & Ellis, the complaint against the Department of Human Resources (DHR) sought to end the months-long processing delays that thousands of applicants for emergency benefits routinely suffered. In December 2009, the Baltimore City Circuit Court issued a permanent injunction and ordered DHR to achieve absolute compliance with application processing deadlines within 12 months. The agency immediately began to make improvements to infrastructure and ramped up staffing, even providing jobs to more than 100 former welfare recipients. The payoff was immediately evident as the agency reduced mountainous backlogs. They are planning to implement new technology and to reorganize staffing in order to meet requests for help. Whether they can permanently solve the problem without restoring staff lost to budget cuts during the last decade remains to be seen. The PJC continues to monitor the DHR's progress. Read Earline's story, one of the plaintiff's in the case.