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A Day In The Life

Making Sure Clients Have Access to Essential Medical Services in the Health Law Unit

Erika Hanson is keeping New Yorkers healthy and safe. As a staff attorney in our Civil Practice’s Health Law Unit, Erika represents clients and helps them access health care coverage and essential medical services. Erika serves as a proud advocate for New Yorkers in need, simplifying the complex health care system for her clients to keep them covered.

Something I enjoy is that I can take the burden of dealing with the system away from my clients.

Our Health Law Unit is on the frontlines of the fight for the health of our clients. Every day, Erika and her colleagues work with New Yorkers on problems like eligibility for benefits, care reductions or denials, medical debt issues, and discrimination. But for Erika, the real value of the Unit goes beyond just our individual representation. “We see so many clients,” Erika explains, “so we can really identify the systemic issues” that clients face. Not only do we represent men and women in and out of the courtroom; we also push for essential reforms that will help New Yorkers across our city.

The essential legal help that Erika offers often goes beyond a single medical issue. As Erika has seen time and again, “when you are under stress about your medical coverage or debt, it can affect everything.” To clients, the effects can be devastating: without coverage, New Yorkers go into debt, lose their jobs, homes, and even their lives. Even worse, as Erika notes, its often the families of clients who end up carrying much of the burden, whether that involves “taking time off school or work, or quitting their jobs” to coordinate care. Thankfully, that is where Erika comes in. What she enjoys most about her job is “that I can take the burden of dealing with these systems away from my clients.” Erika uses her expertise to connect these New Yorkers with the benefits they need to thrive, offering a helping hand to families and communities along the way.

He didn’t have an identity, no housing subsidies, no insurance, nothing.

At the end of the day, Erika is grateful that she can make a difference for New Yorkers in need. In some cases, her impact is truly life-changing. Recently, Erika worked with a client who had just been released from prison after 40 years of incarceration. The man is legally blind and had been incarcerated under an alias. As Erika explains, this meant that when he was released, “he didn’t have an identity. No money, no housing subsides, no health insurance. Nothing.” So, Erika had to start at the very beginning: getting this man his identity back. For her, this was an exciting challenge. “I got to use my position as a lawyer to push things along.” After weeks of work, she secured his birth certificate and social security card, signed him up for Medicaid, Medicare, cash assistance and food stamps, and referred him to resources for employment and affordable housing. Through her tireless efforts, she helped this man get back on his feet and on a path towards a brighter future. Erika is proud to offer a voice for all New Yorkers who are suffering in silence.

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