Medha D. Makhlouf

Associate Professor of Law; Founding Director, Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic; and Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine

Medha D. Makhlouf is an associate professor of law and the founding director of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at Penn State Dickinson Law. She is also an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine.

Professor Makhlouf’s research interests lie at the intersection of health law, immigrants’ rights, and poverty law and policy. Her current work focuses on immigrant access to health care and the many ways in which immigration status functions as a social determinant of health. Professor Makhlouf’s scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in the New York University Law Review, the Northwestern University Law Review Online, the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law & Ethics, and several other academic journals. She has also contributed a chapter to Disability, Health, Law, and Bioethics, an edited volume stemming from the annual conference of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. In 2017, Professor Makhlouf was selected as a Health Law Scholar by the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics and the Saint Louis University Center for Health Law Studies based on the originality of the thesis of her article, Health Justice for Immigrants, and its contribution to the scholarly literature. Her recent work, The Public Charge Rule as Public Health Policy, has been cited by litigants and amici curiae in four federal lawsuits challenging the 2019 regulations expanding the scope of public charge inadmissibility.

As Director of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, Professor Makhlouf supervises law students in direct representation of individuals who have health-harming legal needs. The Clinic aims to reduce health disparities and improve health in vulnerable communities through collaboration with medical providers and public health practitioners. Currently, the Clinic focuses on representing immigrants in matters involving access to health-supporting public benefits. Professor Makhlouf was named a 2020 Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity to support the Clinic’s collaboration with the International Healthcare Professionals Program, a community organization providing comprehensive support to international medical graduates on their journey to becoming licensed physicians and nurses.

Professor Makhlouf received her undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Brown University and her law degree from Yale Law School. After law school, she served as a public interest fellow at the Political Asylum / Immigration Representation Project in Boston and at Asylum Access in Quito, Ecuador; as an associate attorney at Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston; and as the Medical-Legal Partnership Staff Attorney at the Central West Justice Center in Worcester, MA. She joined the faculty at Penn State Dickinson Law in 2015.

Select Publications by Professor Makhlouf

Health Care Sanctuaries, 20 YALE J. HEALTH POL’Y, L. & ETHICS 1 (2021) (peer-reviewed)

A Pathway to Health Care Citizenship for DACA Beneficiaries, 12 CALIF. L. REV. ONLINE 29 (2021) (with Patrick J. Glen).

Laboratories of Exclusion: Medicaid, Federalism, and Immigrants, 95 N.Y.U.L.REV. 1680 (2020)

Medha M. Makhlouf

Phone  717-241-3521

Curriculum Vitae Curriculum Vitae



Prof. Makhlouf News and Activity

Prof. Makhlouf in the Media

Selected Works

Faculty Impact

J.D., Yale Law School

B.A., Brown University

Research Interests
Health law, immigrants’ rights, and poverty law and policy

Current Courses
Law & Medicine

Medical Legal Partnership Clinic

Public Health Law

Makhlouf's Publications

Immigration Reforms as Health Policy, 15 St. Louis U. J. Health L. & Pol'y 275 (2022).

Towards Racial Justice: The Role of Medical-Legal Partnerships, 50 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 117 (2022) (peer-reviewed) (special issue: Health Law and Anti-Racism)

Compounding Vulnerability: Hospital Emergency Rooms as Sites of Race- and Class-Based Police Surveillance, JOTWELL (Nov. 10, 2021) (reviewing Ji Seon Song, Policing the Emergency Room, 134 HARV. L. REV. 2646 (2021)

Setting the Health Justice Agenda: Addressing Health Inequity and Injustice in the Post-Pandemic Clinic, 28 CLINICAL L. REV. 45 (2021) (with Emily A. Benfer, James Bhandary-Alexander, Yael Cannon, and Tomar Pierson-Brown) (symposium issue: 2020 Hindsight: The Pandemic, Protests, and Political Perils)

Health Justice for Immigrants Revisited, BILL OF HEALTH (Sept. 17, 2021) (digital symposium: Health Justice)

Health Care Sanctuaries, 20 YALE J. HEALTH POL’Y, L. & ETHICS 1 (2021) (peer-reviewed)

A Pathway to Health Care Citizenship for DACA Beneficiaries, 12 CALIF. L. REV. ONLINE 29 (2021) (with Patrick J. Glen)

Laboratories of Exclusion: Medicaid, Federalism, and Immigrants, 95 N.Y.U.L.REV. 1680 (2020)

Immigrants and Interdependence: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposes the Folly of the New Public Charge Rule, 115 NW. U. L. REV. ONLINE  (with Jasmine Sandhu)

The Ethics of DNA Testing at the Border, 46 Am. J.L. & Med. 253 (2020) (peer-reviewed)

Addressing Racism through Medical-Legal Partnerships, BILL OF HEALTH (Sept. 24, 2020) (invited symposium contribution)

Destigmatizing Disability in the Law of Immigration Admissions, in DISABILITY, HEALTH, LAW, AND BIOETHICS 187 (I. Glenn Cohen, Carmel Shachar, Anita Silvers, Michael Ashley Stein eds., 2020)

The Public Charge Rule as Public Health Policy, 16 IND. HEALTH L. REV. 177 (2019) (invited symposium contribution)

  • Cited in Brief of Amici Curiae Asian Americans Advancing Justice et al. in Support of PlaintiffsAppellees at 9, San Francisco v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Serv., No. 19-17213 (9th Cir. 2020).
  • Cited in Brief of Amici Curiae Asian Americans Advancing Justice et al. in Support of PlaintiffsAppellees at 9-10, California v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, No. 19-17214 (9th Cir. 2020).
  • Cited in Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction at 8, Make the Road New York et al. v. Cuccinelli, No. 1:19-cv-07993-GBD (S.D.N.Y. 2019).
  • Cited in Memorandum of Law of Amici Curiae Asian Americans Advancing Justice et al. in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction at 4, New York v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, No. 1:19-cv-07777-GBD (S.D.N.Y. 2019).

Health Justice for Immigrants, 4 U. PA. J.L. & PUB. AFF. 235 (2019).

  • Selected by ImmigrationProf Blog as Immigration Article of the Day (Jan. 31, 2019)

Theorizing the Immigrant Child: The Case of Married Minors, 82 BROOK. L. REV. 1603 (2017)

My Guiding Principles

These principles are the foundation of my work to advance health equity through law and policy.

I am deliberate, intentional, and clear about why I do what I do. My research and teaching commitments support and feed into one another. In the MLP Clinic, I hear compelling stories from people who face barriers to accessing health care and health-promoting public benefits. Through my scholarship, I try to make our clients’ stories matter in the legal system. These selective, overlapping commitments help to deepen my expertise and broaden my perspective on addressing health inequities.

I seek combination and commonality in seemingly siloed disciplines, experiences, and perspectives. My unique research draws on the fields of health law and immigration law. I am interested in demonstrating how insights from one field can inform the other. I believe it is not only possible and desirable but imperative to combine wisdom from two or more sources to make new and valuable contributions to the world. This is also the reason I founded the MLP Clinic, which brings together members of legal and health care professions to jointly advocate for patients in need and to become more effective advocates for health.

I am passionate about removing barriers to potential. My commitment to removing barriers to potential drives my research focus on health inequities affecting historically marginalized groups. My research analyzes law as both the source of barriers to reaching one’s maximum health potential and as a tool for removing some of those barriers. Eradicating health inequities is an important way of removing barriers to potential. The MLP Clinic reflects this commitment through its use of legal advocacy to address fundamental barriers to flourishing, such as food insecurity, immigration concerns, or a lack of health insurance.

I believe that everyone has the ability to create a life of positive impact. To me, this means discovering what you are uniquely qualified to do–a question I often ask myself and my students. The roots of my own scholarly interests run deep: I am a daughter of immigrants whose ability to enter the United States relied on my father’s promise to provide health care to medically underserved communities. I teach my students about the power of their own experiences, education, future credentials as attorneys, and advocacy skills so that they are inspired to use them to have a positive impact on the world, regardless of the field of law they enter. I believe that our lives can be rich sources of inspiration that contribute to our professional success and the impact we have on the world.