Sarah Somers, J.D., M.P.H., is a managing attorney at the Network’s Southeastern Region Office and at the National Health Law Program’s (NHeLP) Chapel Hill office. She specializes in litigation and litigation support, and has expertise in Medicaid and disability issues. Sarah has provided training and analysis to advocates on issues related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Medicaid; the Americans with Disabilities Act; and other publicly-funded health care programs. She engages in research, writing and training on these and other issues. Before joining the Network and NHeLP, Sarah worked for DNA—People’s Legal Services and the Native American Protection and Advocacy Project on the Navajo Nation, where she represented children in special education and Medicaid cases. Sarah received her J.D. from the University of Michigan, her M.P.H. from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, and her B.A. from Wellesley College. She is a member of the state bars of North Carolina; California; and Utah (inactive) and admitted to the First; Third; Fourth, Fifth, Sixth; and Ninth Circuit Federal Courts of Appeal.

Articles & Resources

ACA Under Threat: The Potential Impacts of Repealing the Affordable Care Act

WebinarsHealth ReformPublic Health Statutes and Regulatory Information

June 26, 2019
by Sarah Somers

What would happen to the health of millions of Americans if the Affordable Care Act were to go away? How would some of the most vulnerable populations and those on Medicaid be affected? In this webinar, experts on the ACA will consider the upcoming 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on the constitutionality of the ACA and the impacts were it to be repealed.

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Medicaid and Spending Caps – A Bad Idea that Won’t Go Away

Law & Policy InsightsMedicaid

January 31, 2019
by Sarah Somers

Recent reports from news media assert the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is working on plans to radically change the way that state Medicaid programs are funded – without the requisite changes in the law. If CMS goes ahead with this plan, it would give states permission to strictly limit spending on their Medicaid programs, which has the potential to negatively impact public health in significant ways.

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The Potential Impacts of the Midterm Elections on Public Health

WebinarsHealth ReformMedicaid

December 6, 2018
by Sarah Somers

Polls have shown that health care and health related issues were top of mind for voters running up to the midterm elections. Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid were important issues in a number of campaigns throughout the country, with Medicaid expansion on the ballot in several states. Women’s access to reproductive health services is also in question and candidates in some races directly voiced support for efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursement for family planning services. Now that the votes are in, what should we expect for these critical public health issues?

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Addressing Socioeconomic Barriers to Health Equity Through Law: A Preview of the 2018 Public Health Law Conference

WebinarsMedical-Legal PartnershipsMedicaidTelehealth

July 26, 2018
by Colleen Healy Boufides and Sarah Somers

Social and economic disadvantages create barriers to good health. Laws and policies can contribute to barriers, but can also be used to advance health equity. This webinar previews three sessions from the upcoming 2018 Public Health Law Conference. Panelists will discuss how telehealth can be employed to increase access to health care in underserved communities, how medical-legal partnerships can help address socioeconomic factors impacting health, and efforts at the State level to promote and strengthen benefits for children that are guaranteed by Medicaid.

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Medicaid and Work Requirements: Has Kentucky Gone Too Far?

WebinarsMedicaid

February 22, 2018
by Jane Perkins and Sarah Somers

The federal Medicaid agency has approved an 1115 waiver that will enable Kentucky to require many Medicaid beneficiaries to work in order to receive coverage. The approval also imposes premiums on very low income people and introduces other eligibility requirements that previous Administrations have refused. Advocates quickly sued, arguing that the approval violates federal law.

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Medicaid and Work Requirements – Kentucky’s “Experiment”

Law & Policy InsightsMedicaid

January 17, 2018
by Sarah Somers

For the first time, the federal government has given a state permission to impose work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage. As troubling as these policy developments are, there is a more disturbing assumption underlying them. In its efforts to justify work requirements as a legitimate feature of a Medicaid program, the administration relies on a distorted concept of the social determinants of health.

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