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Empowering People with Disability & Health Issues

We help New Yorkers obtain and maintain the benefits to which they are entitled and ensure that public programs are administered with the fairness and due process required by law.

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Every day, in courthouses and communities across the city, we advocate for the rights of all New Yorkers. Learn more about the services we provide.

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Making a Difference

Projects, Units & Initiatives

Our specialized teams have experience working on nearly every area of law that impacts New Yorkers. Explore the ways we fight on behalf of clients and communities.

A Day in the Life

Assuring 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.

Erika Hanson Health Law Unit
Our Work with Partners

NYS Mandates Medicaid Health Plans to Provide Coverage to Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming New Yorkers

Cruz v. Zucker, 14 Civ. 4456 (JSR), a class action lawsuit brought by The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), The Legal Aid Society, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP challenged New York’s refusal to provide funding for sex reassignment operations and other medical treatments, such as hormone therapy, through its Medicaid program. In response to the filing, the New York State Department of Health amended a regulation that had banned Medicaid coverage of all transgender and gender non-conforming care in early 2015. As a result, in March 2015 the state began covering hormone therapy and gender-reassignment surgery for adults.

But the revised regulation still excluded coverage for certain treatments deemed “cosmetic procedures” such as facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation, and tracheal shaving, which experts in the case testified are medically necessary for some patients to reduce the acute distress and suicide risk associated with gender dysphoria. The judge ruled that the amended regulation violated the federal Medicaid Act, requiring state Medicaid programs to provide coverage for medically necessary treatment and prohibiting plans from selectively denying coverage on the basis of diagnosis.

Plaintiff Angie Cruz speaks at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Ceremony

By the Numbers

The efforts of our Health Law Unit, Disability Advocacy Project and +HIV/AIDs Representation Project ensure hardworking New Yorkers have access to the rights and benefits to which they’re entitled.

65%

65% of individuals applying for federal disability benefits are denied—usually for failure to provide sufficient medical evidence.

1 million

1 million New Yorkers, roughly 11.2% of the city’s population, have disclosed living with a disability.

56%

Of HIV+ New Yorkers were 50 or older.

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