Legal Services Corporation
In April 2018, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) launched an Opioid Task Force to identify how civil legal aid could respond and address the opioid crisis. Over the next 11 months, LSC compiled a list of 13 recommendations on how legal aid can address the opioid crisis. Some legal issues individuals with opioid use disorder face are related to kinship care, domestic violence, insurance, employment, housing, and more.
Between 1999 and 2017 nearly 400,000 Americans have lost their lives due to opioid-related overdose. In 2017, 2.1 million people had Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), as reported by the U.S. Department of Health. In addition to human cost, the economic cost of the opioid epidemic was estimated at $504 billion in 2015 (p. 2). Individuals with OUD often struggle with legal issues relating to family, custody, domestic violence, healthcare, employment, insurance and many more. That tremendous need led the Legal Services Corporation to create an Opioid Task Force in April 2018. After eleven months of investigating the issue in co-operation with experts, the Task Force compiled a recommendations report for enhancing the role of civil legal aid in countering the opioid epidemic. Below are the recommendations:
- Legal aid providers should assess the effects of the opioid epidemic on their client populations (p. 16).
- Legal aid providers should develop medical-legal partnerships or other collaborative relationships with healthcare providers (p. 17-18).
- Legal aid providers should build on or develop partnerships with local organizations that serve individuals and families affected by the opioid epidemic (p. 19-20).
- Legal aid providers should understand the needs of specific populations impacted by the opioid epidemic (p. 21-23).
- Legal aid providers should obtain training on the science of opioid use disorder and recovery to better understand how to serve individuals with opioid use disorder (p. 24).
- Legal aid providers should consider applying for federal, state, and other funding to address the unmet civil legal needs of individuals affected by the opioid epidemic (p. 25-27).
- LSC should work with bar counsel and health law experts to develop policies and materials that address privacy and ethical issues related to serving clients affected by the opioid epidemic (p. 28-29).
- The judiciary should learn about the science of opioid use disorder and recovery to better assist court-involved individuals with opioid use disorder (p. 33).
- Courts should learn about unique challenges faced by specific populations and consider expanding alternate court options to assist people with opioid use disorder (p. 34-38).
- Correctional facilities should collaborate with civil legal aid attorneys to decrease barriers to reentry for people leaving incarceration (p. 39).
- Treatment providers and public health officials should collaborate with states’ health and behavioral and mental health agencies to promote the inclusion of civil legal aid organizations in state opioid response frameworks (p. 42).
- Treatment providers should collaborate with legal aid providers to learn how to identify points in the continuum of care where patients are likely to face legal barriers to care (p. 43).
- Treatment providers should consider forming medical-legal partnerships or other collaborations to comprehensively address social determinants of health with legal solutions (p. 44-45).
Geographic coverage, US: NATIONAL
Case type: Health
Practice Area: Health
Who Served: Substance Use Disorders
How Provided: Courts, Legal Aid Attorneys
Permalink URL of this page: http://legalaidresearch.org/?p=6531