Access for Vulnerable Populations

At the Center for Health Law and Economics at UMass Medical School, we understand the special circumstances the health care system presents for low-income families, people with disabilities, people with unstable housing, and other groups that have historically found it challenging to receive equitable treatment. With these groups in mind, we analyze how reform initiatives would improve access to care for these groups, and how they might hinder it. We design, administer, and analyze public programs. The Center for Health Law and Economics at UMass Medical School can also help states look beyond expanding coverage to address issues critical to vulnerable populations by:

  • Reducing racial and ethnic disparities
  • Assessing institutional and provider capacity to deliver care to vulnerable groups
  • Developing outreach strategies to engage and enroll eligible, hard-to-reach populations


As states’ primary means for extending health care coverage to their most vulnerable residents, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) often make up the foundation of state health reform initiatives. These complex programs, governed by overlapping layers of federal and state laws and regulations, can also bring federal financial resources to states.  Our staff keeps up-to-date on the federal and state regulations and understands that every modification has the potential to affect new and existing health care policies and programs.  As health lawyers, our team leaders have the necessary experieince to analyze and interpret the statutory and regulatory provisions of Medicaid and CHIP and we assess the following for our clients:

  • The financial and coverage impacts of new or proposed Medicaid and CHIP rules on public programs or policies
  • Whether new policies or programs are in compliance with Medicaid and CHIP rules
  • The impact of related federal laws on existing Medicaid and CHIP programs
  • Role of Medicaid and CHIP in broader reform efforts

Further flexibility in Medicaid and CHIP is available through State Plan amendments and the federal waiver process. Our long experience conceiving and drafting State Plan amendments and federal waivers has educated us on their tremendous potential — and their pitfalls. This experience, along with our deep understanding of the legal and financial aspects of the waiver process, enables us to guide our clients through the process.