Tucson Family Advocacy Program
A Medical-Legal Partnership for Health
TFAP is located on site at the UPH Family Medicine Clinic. Physicians and other health care providers at the clinic can refer low income patients to TFAP for help with legal issues that may be affecting patient health. TFAP provides legal advice and assistance to referred patients in a wide variety of legal matters including:
- Access to health care
- Unsafe housing conditions
- Disability benefits
- Domestic violence
- Medical Powers of Attorney and Living Wills
Examples of the cases TFAP has successfully handled include:
- A 60 year old humanitarian refugee was referred to TFAP by her physician in the Family and Community Medicine Clinic to evaluate her eligibility for Social Security benefits. Despite her severe health problems, she had been denied disability benefits and did not understand how to appeal. TFAP helped her prepare documents demonstrating good cause for filing a late appeal, as well as a new disability application requesting benefits retroactive to her original filing date. TFAP also collaborated with her doctor to submit medical information to Social Security to support her disability claim. Social Security approved the application for disability benefits and reopened her case. This resulted in an award of the maximum amount of monthly disability benefits as well as back payments for the prior 18 months. With the money received, she was able to remain in her apartment and repay loans for her living expenses.
- A Family Medicine physician referred an elderly couple to TFAP after their applications for food stamps and Medicaid health insurance were denied. TFAP determined that the state agency had wrongly denied coverage based on an error in calculation of the couple’s income. With TFAP’s help, they appealed the denials and submitted documents verifying the family’s true income. Within weeks, they had medical insurance coverage and money for groceries.
- A 47 year old disabled woman was referred to TFAP by her Family Medicine doctor after her insurer denied coverage for a medication prescribed for her complex medical conditions. Without the medication, she was in severe pain. TFAP consulted with her doctor to prepare documentation demonstrating that the prescribed medication was medically necessary because of her multiple drug allergies and potential adverse interactions with other medications. The denial was reversed, and she obtained the medication her doctor prescribed.
In addition to legal assistance for referred patients, TFAP also educates health care providers about legal issues that impact patient health. Education for health care providers is an integral part of this interdisciplinary team approach to health care. Examples of health care provider trainings include:
- Understanding the Social Security Disability Process
- Forms and Letters 101: Completing Documents Your Patients Need
- Domestic Violence: Issues for Healthcare Providers
- End of Life Decision Making
- Multidisciplinary Screening, Treatment and Referral Options
HELPING LOW INCOME AND ELDERLY INDIVIDUALS UNDERSTAND ADVANCED DIRECTIVES AND LIVING WILLS FOR HEALTH CARE
A Resident physician in the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine strongly believed that people should learn about their right to designate someone to make future health care decisions for them when they become unable to do so and to specify the types of care they would want to receive. He asked TFAP to help provide education on Advance Directives in the community in addition to assisting referred patients at the Family Medicine Clinic.
In partnership with St. Elizabeth’s Health Center and the Student Health Law Association of the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, TFAP developed and now conducts Advance Directive clinics for low income elderly or disabled residents at three public housing facilities in Tucson. At these clinics, a Resident physician first explains the importance of advance directives from the medical perspective. Then students from the College of Law, under the supervision of TFAP staff or volunteer attorneys, help housing residents understand and complete medical powers of attorney and living wills.