The National Health Law Program, founded in 1969, protects and advances health rights of low-income and underserved individuals and families. We advocate, educate and litigate at the federal and state levels to advance health and civil rights in the U.S.
Our lawyers and policy experts fight every day for the rights of the tens of millions of people struggling to access affordable, quality health care coverage free from discrimination.
The National Health Law Program defends and fights to expand health and civil rights of those most in need and those with the fewest resources. We strive to give a voice to low-income individuals and families in federal and state policy making, promote the rights of patients in emerging managed-care health care systems that too often put profits over people, and advocate for a health care system that will ensure all people have access to quality and comprehensive health care.
We are a force in the courtroom, working to ensure that low-income people and underserved communities can obtain the quality care to which they are legally entitled and holding state and federal Medicaid agencies accountable for their programs.
The National Health Law Program has been on the front lines for 50 years, providing vital leadership and expertise on health care law to federal and state policymakers, advocates and the media. We amplify our impact by collaborating with national and state-based advocacy organizations and pro bono partners to ensure our work betters access to quality health care now and for years to come.
Meet the Staff
Our advocates in Washington, D.C., Chapel Hill, and Los Angeles.
Meet the Board
Nationally recognized attorneys, trailblazing legal service lawyers, leading civil rights advocates provide invaluable support to the National Health Law Program’s mission to ensuring quality, comprehensive health for all people, not just the privileged.
Join the fight to represent those who cannot afford high-priced lawyers and lobbyists to protect their health and civil rights. There is nothing more rewarding than collective action to right the wrongs of the past and create a better tomorrow.
For a complete timeline of the National Health Law Program’s 50 year history, click here.
1964 – The Civil Rights Act
President Lyndon Johnson enacts the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The law prohibits unequal application of voter registration…Read more
1965 – The Medicare and Medicaid Act
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act Amendments, popularly known as the Medicare bill. It established Medicare, a health insurance program for…Read more
1969 – Founding the National Health Law Program
The National Health Law Program (then named National Legal Program on Health Problems of the Poor) was founded by Ruth and Milton Roemer at the University of California, Los Angeles…Read more
1973 – <i>Doe v. Bolton:</i> The Fight for Reproductive Health
In 1973, the National Health Law Program submitted an Amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case Doe v. Bolton, a companion case to Roe v. Wade, which was…Read more
1974 – <i>Florida Peach Growers Association v. Department of Labor:</i> Protecting the Safety Rights of Workers
In 1970, Congress established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by…Read more
1974 – <i>Doe v. Westby:</i> Fighting for Reproductive Rights in Medicaid
Following Roe, states across the nation grappled with how to integrate the right to abortion into their Medicaid programs. In South Dakota, officials decided that low-income women did not have…Read more
1975 – Fighting for Transparency in Drug Pricing
While transparency in prescription drug pricing might seem like a modern health care concern, the National Health Law Program has been fighting for fairer drug pricing for decades. In 1975,…Read more
1975 – Washington, D.C. Office Opens
In 1975, the National Health Law Program opened a second office in Washington, D.C. The purpose was, and remains, to advance health policy work at the national level. Since 1975,…Read more
1976 – Advocating for Children’s Health and EPSDT
Enacted in 1967, Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) is the child health component of Medicaid. EPSDT added to Medicaid a deliberate focus on prevention and early intervention…Read more
1986 – Ending Hospital “Dumping”
The Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, also known as EMTALA or the Patient Anti-Dumping Law, was enacted by Congress in 1986 to stop hospitals that receive federal funds…Read more
1989 – Working Toward Comprehensive Lead Screening
In 1989 northern California was hit by the massive Loma Prieta earthquake, which left 63 dead and 3,757 injured. In the aftermath of the quake and subsequent cleanup, it was…Read more
1990 – Protecting the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as…Read more
1991 – Challenging Abuse to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act
In an attempt to scare and harass members of the immigrant community in southern Texas, the McAllen Medical Center equipped their security guards with uniforms that were identical to the…Read more
1993 – Carrboro, North Carolina Office Opens
In 1993 the National Health Law Program opened a third office in North Carolina with Legal Director Jane Perkins at the helm. Over the years the North Carolina office has…Read more
1997 – The Children’s Health Insurance Program
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides matching funds to states for health coverage to families…Read more
1999 – Fighting for Language Access
In 1999 a Farsi speaking women fell out of her bed at the Maine Medical Center, and despite her cries for help, she was ignored by staff who later claimed…Read more
2006 – <i>Lankford v. Sherman:</i> Access to Durable Medical Equipment
Joey Everett was a high school student in rural Missouri who was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed. He qualified for Missouri’s Medicaid program, but was denied…Read more
2010 – The Affordable Care Act
In 2010, President Barak Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, the largest overhaul of the U.S. health care system in the nation’s history. By 2016, the uninsured share…Read more
2011 – <i>Katie A. v. Douglas:</i> The Rights of Children to Access Mental Health Services
Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, provides free or low-cost health care coverage to more than 14 million low-income adults, families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, children in foster…Read more
2011 – <i>Pashby v. Cansler:</i> Fighting for Home-and-Community Based Care
Accessible, community-based, non-discriminatory health care coverage and services for individuals with disabilities are an essential component of any health care system. Yet individuals with disabilities face discrimination in both health…Read more
2014 – Advocacy for HIV/AIDS Therapy & Medication Coverage Under the ACA
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, language, age, sex, disability, and immigration status. It was the first law to ban discrimination in health…Read more
2014 and Beyond – Contraceptive Equity Act
Contraceptive equity is a policy framework under which contraceptive care is easily accessible and covered at no cost in all health programs. It is of paramount importance because of the…Read more
2017 – The Fight to Save the Affordable Care Act
In the summer of 2017, the National Health Law Program, in coordination with dozens of partner organizations, engaged in a public, grass-roots campaign to stop congressional attempts to repeal and…Read more