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Melissa Lipnick

  • Hosted by Florida Health Justice Project
  • Sponsored by The Florida Bar Foundation
  • Service location Miami, Florida
  • Law school University of Miami School of Law
  • Issue area Health Care, Public Benefits/Welfare Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Melissa (she/her/hers) will engage in individual and systemic advocacy to expand access and address barriers to Medicaid home health care, enabling more low-income Florida seniors to stay safely at home and out of nursing homes.

Institutionalization should not be the only guaranteed option for older low-income Floridians living with severe disabilities, but this is often the case. Seniors on Medicaid who require long-term services and supports are able to get immediate nursing home care, but if they would like to access home health services as an alternative, they are forced to go through an extremely complicated process just to get on a waitlist with no guarantee of ever receiving these services. The ability to access home health services, especially for Floridians of Color and immigrants, is critical, as racial disparities in nursing homes are profound.

Growing up between the U.S. and Mexico, Melissa saw the differences in the way aging individuals are treated. Her Mexican grandmother lives in a multigenerational home supported by home health care and family, while her American grandparents spent their last years in a nursing home, largely alone. Melissa believes that everyone should be able to access care that allows them to stay safely at home and with their families.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Melissa will engage in individual and systemic advocacy to expand access and address barriers to Medicaid home health care for low-income Florida seniors. She will create Know Your Rights materials and toolkits to support grievances and appeals for Long-Term Care Waiver enrollees and their families, as well as offer trainings to advocates and providers. She will also undertake administrative advocacy to address policy and systems level issues.

No one should be forced to choose between accessing needed healthcare and staying safely at home with their loved ones just because of their socio-economic status.

Melissa Lipnick /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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