WASHINGTON, D.C.  Today, U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) announced the introduction of the Veterans Medical Legal Partnerships Act of 2021, which would provide grants to state and local governments to create Medical Legal Partnerships aimed at ensuring access to legal services for veterans — thereby reducing homelessness and recidivism, and preventing victimization, among former service members. The legislation authorizes $6.5 million annually for fiscal years 2022 through 2027 to fund these grants.

Medical Legal Partnerships (MLPs) are holistic care models that integrate legal expertise and services into health care settings and delivery systems to address underlying social and legal needs that can negatively affect the health outcomes of veterans and their families.

Veterans are at a disproportionately higher risk for health problems, many of which are exacerbated by unmet social and legal needs such as homelessness, unemployment, or fraud and abuse that also often give rise to legal issues. MLPs which receive grants through the Veterans Medical Legal Partnerships Act of 2021 will prioritize veterans whose medical needs put them at risk for unemployment, homelessness, recidivism, and victimization.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line and have endured so much for our country, and they deserve all the support we can provide them,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to partner with Rep. Scanlon on the Veterans Medical Legal Partnerships Act of 2021, which would expand access to legal and medical services for our veterans. I am fully dedicated to supporting our veterans and ensuring they receive access to the care they have earned.”

“The physical and emotional trauma experienced by veterans often leaves them vulnerable to interconnected medical and legal challenges,” said Rep. Scanlon. “Medical Legal Partnerships can be a critical factor in addressing the complex issues that many vets must deal with, including mental health challenges, physical disability, and economic or housing instability. By integrating legal and medical services, we can provide the support veterans may need to address challenges that might otherwise prevent them from living the dignified lives they deserve when they leave active service.”

One study found that veterans who received services through MLPs showed significant mental health improvement and even improvements in their housing and income. Additionally, MLPs have been found to decrease readmission rates, length of inpatient hospital stays, and visits to the emergency room.

You can read the full bill text here