From the desk of Elizabeth G. Taylor, Executive Director at the National Health Law Program
Since the National Health Law Program opened its doors in 1969, we have been in the courts, enforcing the rights of low-income people to health care, free from discrimination. We are concerned about changes we see in the courts, from decision-making unhinged from precedent to a decreasing willingness to entertain suits brought to enforce individual rights. It is imperative that we not lose the courts as the independent third branch of our democracy. We are not giving up on the courts. In fact, we are doubling down on our enforcement and litigation efforts. The decision to do this is part of our new Strategic Plan, which we will unveil fully in the weeks to come.
For now, we are announcing our first bold moves. Jane Perkins has served for a number of years as both Legal Director, overseeing all of NHeLP’s multi-pronged education, advocacy and litigation strategies, and Litigation Director, the leader of our crucial Enforcement and Litigation team. Going forward, Jane will devote the bulk of her efforts to our expanded enforcement and litigation work, focusing on her role as Litigation Director. Jane has the deep wisdom and experience that this time calls for. We need to educate courts and policymakers, and litigate strategically to ensure that individual rights can still be enforced and protected in both federal and state courts. Advocates and clients across the country depend on Jane and the NHeLP enforcement and litigation team for complex problem-solving and practical litigation advice. Jane also will continue to be a key adviser to the Executive Director on vision and strategy, as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director.
The other exciting announcement is that Sarah Somers is now NHeLP’s Legal Director. Since 2017, NHeLP’s legal and policy staff has more than doubled in size and capacity in response to threats to access to care and opportunities to pursue health equity. We have multiple teams, all doing vital work of protecting access to care, addressing inequities, advancing people-center health policies, and supporting and training advocates. Ensuring that NHeLP works effectively to pursue a common, bold vision is the job of the Legal Director. Sarah’s experience, as a seasoned advocate and as the Managing Attorney of the North Carolina office, has equipped her to lead this collective vision and to mentor, support, and foster the growth of future health advocates.
We are grateful to Jane and Sarah for their ongoing leadership.