Members of Congress Join LSC’s Opioid Task Force for Report Release

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation’s (LSC) Opioid Task Force will release its report on Monday, June 10, offering recommendations on how legal aid providers can collaborate with the medical, judicial, law enforcement, and other communities to best confront the opioid crisis. The event, to be held in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, is sponsored by the House Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus, whose four Co-Chairs will speak: Representatives Susan Brooks (IN-5), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-4), and Fred Upton (MI-6). Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) will also offer remarks.

LSC Board Chair John G. Levi will deliver welcoming remarks and leaders from the fields of law and healthcare will also take part, including Brandon George, Director, Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition; Dr. Robert Onders, Medical Director of Community and Health Systems Improvements, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush, Indiana Supreme Court; and Adrienne Worthy, Executive Director, Legal Aid of West Virginia.

The Opioid Task Force’s Co-Chairs will also participate: LSC Board Member Robert Grey, Jr., retired Senior Counsel at Hunton & Williams LLP; LSC Board Member Victor B. Maddox, a partner in the Louisville law firm of Fultz Maddox Dickens, PLC; and David H. Hoffman, a partner in the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP. The Task Force is comprised of health care and public health experts, judges, leaders in business and law, and other stakeholders who are working to address the legal aid component of the opioid crisis.

The opioid epidemic has emerged as one of the most serious public health care crises in American history. Since 1999, at least 400,000 people in the United States have died from an overdose involving opioids, and more than two million Americans currently suffer from opioid-related substance use disorders. Individuals and families affected by the opioid epidemic face a substantial number and variety of civil legal issues, such as caring for relatives, custody, domestic violence, health care, housing, insurance, and employment. Additionally, individuals with opioid use disorder often encounter legal barriers to obtaining or maintaining access to medication-assisted treatment.

Legal aid providers are key to addressing the legal issues that prevent treatment and recovery.

The Task Force’s recommendations focus on fostering collaborative responses to the opioid epidemic. For example, the report recommends that legal aid providers and health care providers develop medical-legal partnerships, in which attorneys are embedded in healthcare settings to address the civil legal needs of patients. These partnerships create opportunities to reach people who would not have identified their problems as legal ones, and they allow individuals to access lawyers quickly and easily when legal help is needed.

The Task Force also recommends greater collaboration among legal aid providers and other organizations that serve individuals and families affected by the opioid epidemic, such as youth organizations, social services organizations, faith-based organizations, schools, local law enforcement, state agencies, family justice centers, and local peer recovery groups. The report details the need for treatment providers and state and local public health officials to promote the inclusion of civil legal aid organizations in opioid response efforts

Finally, the Task Force’s report highlights how additional funding would strengthen civil legal aid's ability to assist individuals and families affected by the opioid epidemic.

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. E.D.T. at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Congressional Meeting Room South, CVC 217. To view the briefing, visit LSC’s Facebook page, or follow the conversation on Twitter at #LSCopioid.

Visit LSC’s Opioid Task Force page for membership information, videos, and other material relevant to the Task Force’s work. Read “Strengthening the Role of Civil Legal Aid in Responding to the Opioid Epidemic: Report of the LSC Opioid Task Force” here.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

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