Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, an NCOA-supported Benefits Enrollment Center (BEC), is a Kentucky nonprofit civil legal aid provider serving the elderly and disabled. Their 30-county service area is diverse, including two of Kentucky’s largest metropolitan areas, Covington and Lexington, and 21 rural northeastern and central Kentucky counties.

Who is the target audience?

Kentucky ranks fifth in the nation for highest poverty level. Nearly 1 in 5 Kentuckians (18.8%) lives on an income below the poverty level, compared to 11.3% of the national population. This percentage increases in rural Kentucky to 23.4%.

Kentucky ranks fourth in the nation for the number of persons aged 65 and over with a disability. Over 20% of Kentuckians with Medicare have incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. For these reasons, Legal Aid attempts to identify economically disadvantaged seniors eligible for benefits such as Low Income Subsidy (LIS), Medicare Savings Programs (MSP), SNAP, and Medicaid, and help them apply.

What did they do?

Outreach to homebound older adults is a difficult task in the diverse communities that Legal Aid serves.  To make the public aware of these valuable services, Legal Aid needed to get information into the hands of trusted and influential persons and agencies already in contact with Medicare eligible people.

Closeup of a prescription form with a pen on a stainless steel backgroundLegal Aid cultivated a relationship with Kentucky One Health and other medical providers through an awareness campaign that included outreach to financial aid departments and medical clinic and program directors. Keeping busy physicians and medical staff in mind, Legal Aid designed its own prescription pad that is easily kept in a physician’s coat pocket.  The prescription pad lists Legal Aid’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) contact details and information about money-saving benefit programs.  Physicians tear off a page on the pad to give their patient in need a “prescription” to call to call Legal Aid so a trained counselor can screen them for benefits programs and help them apply, if they qualify.

What were the results?

Physicians know the cost of health care and when their patients are struggling to afford it. The prescription pad was a simple and easy to implement solution to equip medical staff with the ability to help patients struggling to afford their health care costs. By educating medical providers about Legal Aid and the benefit programs, providers are armed with the knowledge needed to better counsel their patients.

Providers have celebrated the ease of using the prescription pad and have requested additional pads after their supplies diminish. As a result of this collaboration, Legal Aid’s SHIP program gets requests for more extensive training for financial aid staff and social worker staff members.  Through encouragement from their medical provider, patients needing help affording their medical expenses call Legal Aid almost daily.

For more information

Angela Zeek
azeek@lablaw.org