Access to quality, affordable health care is vital for all New Yorkers, but many people, especially low income people, experience barriers to that which is so vital. Empire Justice Center health law staff are focused on providing support for advocates across New York State who are helping low income clients access health care. We also provide technical assistance and training, take referrals for complex cases, engage in policy advocacy and, when necessary, file class action lawsuits to tackle systemic barriers to accessing health care.
We encourage you to visit NYHealthAccess, a website co-sponsored by Empire Justice, the Legal Aid Society of New York City and Selfhelp, Inc. NYHealthAccess will provide you with a comprehensive listing of advocacy materials on New York’s public health insurance programs.
Policy Matters – June 2020
June 16, 2020
In this edition of Policy Matters we’ll be sharing our latest legislative and budget updates, advocacy to remove barriers for New Yorkers in need of cash and food assistance, ways to better meet civil legal needs, protections for immigrants’ health, and statements on Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ rights.
Welcome to the May edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. A lot has happened since our last edition, which came out in early March, just as COVID-19 was beginning to first show up in New York. Empire Justice spent the month of March, as many of us did, trying to pivot to a new normal while keeping our organization on track. This edition we'll be filling you in on what some of that work has looked like.
In this edition we’ll be catching you up on our state budget advocacy, the importance of foreclosure protection, the Gender Recognition Act, pushing back against harmful proposed Social Security regulations, and more.
Alexia Mickles is a Staff Attorney with the Health Law Unit in Empire Justice Center's Rochester office.
Alexia devotes her practice to ensuring access to Medicaid and Medicare to New York's most vulnerable populations. As a law student, she interned with the Empire Justice Center's Disability Advocacy Program (DAP). Alexia graduated cum laude from SUNY Fredonia (2012) and holds a law degree from Pace University School of Law (2015). At Pace, she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Pace Intellectual Property, Sports, & Entertainment Law Forum (PIPSELF). Alexia is licensed to practice law in New York (2016).
Cheryl Keshner is a Senior Paralegal/Community Advocate with the Empire Justice Center in the Long Island office, where she assists indigent people, particularly immigrants, in obtaining assistance from the Department of Social Services and other government agencies. She is active in advocating for the rights of people with limited English proficiency and has provided training and technical assistance to other advocates throughout the state.
She is the founder and coordinator of the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC), a coalition of individuals and organizations based on Long Island working to attain equal access to programs and services, such as healthcare, law enforcement, social services, education and justice through the courts, for persons who are limited English proficient. The coalition was successful in obtaining passage of executive orders in both Nassau and Suffolk counties mandating county agencies to provide comprehensive language access. Cheryl was the recipient of the 2013 Suffolk County Civil Liberties Union Equality Award.
Prior to joining the Empire Justice Center, Cheryl worked for fifteen years as a social worker with Nassau/Suffolk Law Services where she assisted numerous homeless individuals and families, challenged work rules disqualifications and provided representation at fair hearings, and engaged in community education regarding welfare reform. She has also worked as a community organizer with the NYC Commission on Human Rights . Cheryl is fluent in Spanish and has an MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work.
Linda Hassberg is a senior staff attorney in Empire Justice Center's Long Island office. Linda's primary responsibility is impact litigation to bring about systemic change, primarily in the areas of public benefits, civil rights, health and family law.
Linda joined the Empire Justice Center in 2007 to help open the Long Island Office. Prior to that time, she served as litigation counsel of the not-for-profit Western New York Law Center in Buffalo, New York, where she conducted individual and class action impact litigation on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged in the areas of public benefits, health care, education, housing discrimination, and civil rights. Her other legal experiences include association with a private law firm in a practice devoted to the rights of people with disabilities and special education law. She also maintained a practice in union-side labor and employment law.
Linda graduated magna cum laude from the University of Buffalo Law School in 1992 and clerked for the Hon. John T. Curtin, USDJ for the Western District of New York from 1992-95. Prior to law school, Linda was a union activist, educator, and organizer for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees "AFSCME" and holds a Masters degree in U.S. Social and Labor History.
Amanda Gallipeau is a Manager with the Health Law Unit in Empire Justice Center's Rochester office. Her work is focused on assisting those who are struggling to access health benefits, providing direct client services, technical assistance and training to advocates. She is responsible for the management and reporting of the various funding contracts that support the work of the health team.
Amanda serves on the Partnership for Access to Healthcare (PATH), a community partnership through Common Ground Health, whose mission is to increase health insurance coverage and expand access to care, by promoting universal coverage, monitoring state policy, and tracking the impact of the lack of insurance in the region. Before joining the Health practice group, Amanda previously worked in the Foreclosure Prevention unit at Empire Justice Center. Her work focused on advocating for low-income homeowners who had been targeted by predatory lenders as well as with those homeowners who are unable to meet current mortgage obligations in an attempt to prevent foreclosure.
In this edition we’ll update you on the state of New York’s budget issues, share how we’re advocating for small businesses and homeowners adversely affected by COVID-19, celebrate several victories for immigrant New Yorkers, show how we’re pushing back against harmful Trump administration rules that are taking food off the tables of New York families.
Empire Justice Center examined the Paycheck Protection Program data for the 25th Congressional District and concludes that micro-business owners in Monroe County did not have the same access to the federal emergency loan program compared to more established businesses.