Sarah Somers is Managing Attorney of the National Health Law Program’s North Carolina office. She specializes in litigation and litigation support to advance access to quality health care for low-income and other underserved people. Working with health and poverty law advocates across the country, she engages in litigation, research, writing, and training on the Medicaid program, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.
Sarah is a co-author of the National Health Law Program’s flagship publication, An Advocates Guide to the Medicaid Program, which is currently being revised for the 2023 edition. Her other publications include A North Carolina Advocate’s Guide to the Medicaid Program (2006), Medicaid’s Gold Standard Coverage for Children and Youth: Past, Present, and Future¸ 30 Annals Health L. & Sci. 153 (co-author) (2021); The Supreme Court Reinforces Barriers to Court Access: Cases from the 2019-2020 Term 13 Ne. U. L. Rev. 575 (co-author) (2021); and Health Care Reform for Native Americans: The Long-Awaited Permanent Reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, 44 J. Pov. Law & Policy 365 (Nov-Dec. 2010).
Before joining the National Health Law Program, Sarah worked for the Native American Protection and Advocacy Project on the Navajo Nation, where she represented children in special education and Medicaid cases. She also worked for the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California.
She began her legal career as a judicial clerk for Justice James Brickley on the Supreme Court of Michigan. Sarah is a graduate of Wellesley College. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her M.P.H. from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Sarah’s advocacy work has secured and protected the health rights for hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
Among her current and recent cases are:
K.B. v. Michigan D.H.H.S., Eastern District of Michigan, representing Medicaid-eligible children with intensive mental health care needs who are at risk of avoidable psychiatric hospitalizations.
I.N. by and through Zarinah v. Kent, Northern District of California, challenging California’s failure to ensure that medically fragile children received in-home nursing services.
Etheredge v. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, District Court of Lancaster County, representing Medicaid beneficiaries petitioning to compel the state to implement the voter-approved Medicaid expansion.
O.B. v. Norwood, Northern District of Illinois and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging Illinois’ failure to provide or arrange for medically necessary in-home nursing services, as required by Medicaid’s Early and Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment requirements and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Pashby v. Cansler, Eastern District of North Carolina & Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging North Carolina’s decision to narrow the standards for assessing need for in home assistance and practice of favoring services provided in adult care homes over services provided in homes of Medicaid beneficiaries.
Van Meter v. Harvey, representing a group of Maine Medicaid recipients with chronic illness seeking coverage for home and community-based services so that they could leave their nursing homes.
Brantley v. Maxwell Jolly, securing a preliminary injunction protecting more than 8,000 Californians with disabilities from cuts to home and community-based services.