H.A.L.O. CAN Addresses Complex Issues

H.A.L.O.’s legal initiative, the Children’s Advisory Network (CAN) was barely off the ground in 2010 when a family that was in imminent danger of losing services for their child asked for help.

With just one day remaining for an appeal, a volunteer lawyer prepared a letter of advocacy that made the Massachusetts Department of Health aware of important information, and the child’s eligibility was restored.

“Disability law and advocacy are very specialized,” said H.A.L.O. Founder Alan Pinshaw, M.D. “Even highly educated individuals can struggle with the system, and language or cultural mores can further interfere with understanding.”

H.A.L.O. CAN was established in 2010 to help families navigate the complex regulations governing care of people with disabilities in Massachusetts.

The goals are to help families and guardians of children with severe neurological impairment to:

  • Understand and file forms at appropriate times, including guardianship and other complicated paperwork
  • Provide emergency legal services when necessary, including appeals on denials of expensive medications, medical devices, or short term stays in nursing homes
  • Obtain legal advice in matters affecting their child's care

H.A.L.O. board members Rebecca L. Dalpe, and Arthur Sneider, both attorneys, are part of a group that responds to legal questions as needed.

“When a regulatory body denies benefits children are legally entitled to, we help families challenge these decisions,” Becky Dalpe explained.

“Our job is to highlight the pertinent medical records and to obtain supporting letters from medical providers to clarify misunderstandings that may have led to denial of services.”

Families can be overwhelmed by their child’s disabilities, or they find these quasi-legal issues too complex to deal with on their own, she explained.

Some families also worry that an appeal will cause termination of other services.

"H.A.L.O. CAN is here to help,” Becky said. “My pro bono work for CAN on behalf of families is incredibly gratifying.”

Most of her recent assistance has involved Department of Public Health denials for short term respite stays at nursing homes.

Becky’s private law practice includes medical malpractice defense, health care law and representation of medical professionals before regulatory boards, agencies and committees.

H.A.L.O. CAN volunteers are licensed, experienced professionals who specialize in Massachusetts disability and advocacy law. There is no fee for families who qualify. If family needs exceed the volunteer capacity, a list of law firms that specialize in advocacy for children with complex neurological and physical conditions is available.

Families can contact H.A.L.O. CAN through the administrator of their child's pediatric facility or visit WWW.HALO.ORG