About Us

PHLP is a nationally recognized expert and consultant on access to health care for low-income consumers, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. For more than two decades, PHLP has engaged in direct advocacy on behalf of individual consumers while working on the kinds of health policy changes that promise the most to the Pennsylvanians in greatest need. Specifically, we are:

A Legal Services Organization and Back-Up Center

PHLP provides free legal services to lower-income consumers, seniors, and persons with disabilities who are having trouble accessing publicly funded healthcare coverage or services. If you are denied or terminated from enrollment in a publicly funded healthcare program or if you have a service denied, reduced, or terminated, PHLP may provide you free direct representation on your appeal. For assistance, please call 1-800-274-3258 or e-mail us at staff@phlp.org.

PHLP also serves as a back-up center to local legal services and advises or offers co-counsel to attorneys or paralegals at all of the legal services programs around Pennsylvania when, for instance, a client’s request for service has been turned down as “experimental” by an HMO, or when a client has been cut off of shift nursing. PHLP publishes two bi-monthly newsletters so lawyers and advocates can read about the latest developments in civil health law for the poor.

A Resource to the Disabilities Community

PHLP monitors all legal and administrative developments that affect the disabilities community and disseminates the information in newsletters and bulletins to hundreds of disabilities advocacy groups throughout the state. PHLP provides advice and direct assistance annually to thousands of Pennsylvanians with disabilities through its general toll free line 1-800-274-3258 or by e-mail at staff@phlp.org.

Legal Counsel to Poor People Seeking Decent Health Care

PHLP brought litigation that resulted in the addition of hundreds of modern medical procedures to Medicaid’s fee schedule when Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program refused to pay for over 800 procedures, including ultrasounds for pregnant women, because the fee schedule had not been updated in nearly 20 years. In the case of the ultrasounds, the state had contended that x-rays were an acceptable alternative (Simpson v. Schweiker). PHLP successfully litigated a class action which restored care to thousands of nursing home patients when the state tried to reduce services (Troutman v. Cohen). PHLP co-counseled the case that restored benefits – including payment for life-sustaining medication – that the state had denied to hundreds of poor, seriously ill persons (Lind v. Snider). PHLP brought the case seeking consumer safeguards when Pennsylvania sought to impose a mandatory managed care program on 650,000 Medicaid recipients without any regulatory protections (Hernandez v. Houstoun).

A Resource on the National Level

PHLP assisted the National Academy of Child Advocacy in writing their Child Health Advocacy manual. On behalf of their clients, PHLP has worked closely with the Children’s Defense Fund, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and Families USA on national health care issues. PHLP worked with the National Health Law Project (NHLP), during the intense Congressional debate over universal health insurance, to analyze the Clinton Plan from the perspective of low-income consumers. PHLP attorneys have testified before committees of the United States Congress.

A Nationally Recognized Expert and Consultant on Health Insurance Coverage for the Poor, Disabled and Elderly

PHLP drafted the legislation that established the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a Pennsylvania law that expanded health coverage for tens of thousands of low-income children. PHLP helped the federal Health Care Financing Administration with its guide for Medicare beneficiaries, which compares HMOs offering Medicare coverage. PHLP analyzed the impact of proposed block grants and budget cuts on disabled Pennsylvanians for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Southeastern Pennsylvania. PHLP, with financial help from the Pew Charitable Trusts, collaborated with Community Legal Services, the Disabilities Law Project, the Education Law Center and the Juvenile Law Center, and a host of national experts to develop a Medicaid managed care manual. The standards of quality contained in the manual were presented to state agency officials at the highest level. PHLP staff trained volunteer students from local schools of law, medicine, and social work who then developed community education materials and taught thousands of low-income persons how to use the managed health care system.

Staff to the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Advisory Committee’s (MAAC) Consumer Subcommittee

PHLP serves as staff for the Consumer Subcommittee of the MAAC. The Consumer Subcommittee is the voice of Pennsylvania’s 2 million Medicaid recipients before the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW), which administers the Medicaid program. PHLP analyzes every proposed regulation, bulletin, and policy initiative that has the potential to affect the delivery of health care to the poor. PHLP facilitates dialogue between recipients and DPW, the Hospital Association, the Medical Society and the many other health care providers under Medicaid. PHLP helps the consumers monitor every aspect of the Medicaid program, from medical assistance transportation in rural Armstrong County to the implementation of mandatory managed care (HealthChoices) throughout the Commonwealth.

A Resource to the Public Interest Community

PHLP supports the efforts of the many public interest groups that serve the poor. Among those whom PHLP has recently assisted are: Philadelphia Unemployment Project, Maternity Care Coalition, Philadelphia Welfare Rights Organization, Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, Armstrong County Low Income Rights Organization, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, Disabilities Law Project, Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, AIDS Law Project, Pennsylvania Protection and Advocacy, Legal Clinic for the Disabled, and United Cerebral Palsy.

A Training Ground for the Next Generation of Health Care Advocates

PHLP welcomes law students each summer as interns. Students learn health law while researching case law and representing clients. And each summer, a Martin Luther King Fellow from Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network serves an internship at PHLP.



Having trouble accessing publicly funded health care coverage or services? Call…


or email us at staff@phlp.org.

Success Story

A 39-year-old with developmental disabilities

When Gabrielle’s father passed away, her survivors’ benefits disqualified her for the services and supports she needed to live in the community.  PHLP helped Gabrielle avoid being placed in a nursing home.