Medha D. Makhlouf
Elsie de R. and Samuel P. Orlando Distinguished Professor; Director, Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic
Medha D. Makhlouf is a professor of law and the founding director of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at Penn State Dickinson Law. She is also an assistant professor (by courtesy) 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 Boston University Law Review, California Law Review Online, the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law & Ethics, and several other academic journals. 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 work on changes to public charge 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 work.
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, Massachusetts. She joined the faculty of Penn State Dickinson Law in 2015.
Select Publications by Professor Makhlouf
State Flexibility in Emergency Medicaid to Care for Uninsured Noncitizens, in JAMA Health Forum (with Jin K. Park, A.B.; Clarisa Reyes-Becerra, J.D.; Medha D. Makhlouf, J.D.).
Highlighting State Innovation to Close Coverage Gaps for Perinatal Care for Noncitizens, JAMA, (2023) (with Jin K. Park, A.B.; Clarisa Reyes-Becerra, J.D.; Medha D. Makhlouf, J.D.).
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 Makhlouf, Addressing the Harms of Bureaucratization in the Public Home Care System, JOTWELL (September 15, 2023) (reviewing Yiran Zhang, The Care Bureaucracy, __ Indiana L.J. __ (forthcoming 2023), available at SSRN).
Interagency Dynamics in Matters of Health and Immigration, 103 B.U. L. REV. __ (forthcoming 2023).
Charity Care for All: State Efforts to Ensure Equitable Access to Financial Assistance for Noncitizen Patients, 23 HOUSTON J. HEALTH L. & POL’Y __ (forthcoming 2023) (symposium issue: States as Health Policy Laboratories).
Stemming the Shadow Pandemic: Integrating Sociolegal Services in Contact Tracing and Beyond, 50 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 719 (2023) (peer-reviewed) (special issue: Health Justice: Engaging Critical Perspectives in Health Law and Policy).
Immigration Reforms as Health Policy, 15 ST. LOUIS U. J. HEALTH L. & POL’Y 275 (2022) (with Patrick J. Glen) (special issue: Health Care after the 2020 Election).
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).
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 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).
- Cited in Brief of Amici Curiae Immigration Law Professors in Support of Appellees’ Petition for Rehearing En Banc at 14, John Doe #1 et al. v. Donald Trump et al., No. 19-36020 (9th Cir. 2021).
- Reviewed in Jessica Lind Mantel, Federalism and Health Care: Lessons from State Policies on Immigrants’ Eligibility for Medicaid, JOTWELL (Nov. 18, 2020).
Immigrants and Interdependence: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposes the Folly of the New Public Charge Rule, 115 NW. U. L. REV. ONLINE 146 (2020) (with Jasmine Sandhu).
The Ethics of DNA Testing at the Border, 46 AM. J.L. & MED. 253 (2020) (peer-reviewed) (symposium issue: Emerging Issues in Bioethics).
- Featured in HealthLawProf Blog (Sept. 26, 2020).
The Public Charge Rule as Public Health Policy, 16 IND. HEALTH L. REV. 177 (2019) (symposium issue: The Intersection of Immigration and Health Policy).
- Cited in Brief of Amici Curiae Asian Americans Advancing Justice et al. in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees 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 Plaintiffs-Appellees 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).
- Cited in THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS LAW (Jonathan Todres & Shani M. King eds., 2020).
Expanding Access to Health Care for DACA Recipients, 389 NEW ENG. J. MED. 387 (2023) (with Jin K. Park and Rachel Fabi).
State Flexibility in Emergency Medicaid to Care for Uninsured Noncitizens, JAMA HEALTH FORUM (July 14, 2023) (with Jin K. Park and Clarisa Reyes-Becerra).
Highlighting State Innovation to Close Coverage Gaps for Perinatal Care for Noncitizens, JAMA (June 29, 2023) (with Jin K. Park and Clarisa Reyes-Becerra).
Reflective Practice for Antiracist Teaching and Learning, in ANTIRACIST TEACHING AND LEARNING __ (forthcoming 2024) (with Lucy Johnston-Walsh).
Gendered Effects of U.S. Pandemic Border Policy on Migrants from Central America, in ROUTLEDGE GENDER COMPANION TO GENDER AND COVID-19 __ (Linda C. McClain & Aziza Ahmed eds., forthcoming 2023).
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).
OP-EDS and Writing for Public Audiences
Opinion: Faster is Not Always Better: We Must Reform the Asylum Process the Right Way, PENNLIVE (Dec. 9, 2022) (with Dr. Zeina Saliba).
Paid Sick Leave and Health Justice, JOTWELL (Nov. 11, 2022) (reviewing Shefali Milczarek-Desai, Opening the Pandemic Portal to Re-Imagine Paid Sick Leave for Immigrant Workers, 111 CALIF. L. REV. (forthcoming 2023)).
Opinion: Biden Must Stop Using “Public Health” Excuse To Immediately Expel Migrants, HOUSTON CHRON. (Mar. 20, 2022) (with Dr. Sarah Battistich).
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).
Health Justice for Immigrants Revisited, BILL OF HEALTH (Sept. 17, 2021) (digital symposium: Health Justice).
An Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine Must Include Noncitizens, THE HILL (Jan. 26, 2021) (with Raúl M. Grijalva, Dr. Megan L. Srinivas, and Dr. Gilberto Lopez).
Addressing Racism through Medical-Legal Partnerships, BILL OF HEALTH (Sept. 24, 2020) (digital symposium: Understanding the Role of Race in Health).
- Reprinted in CLEA NEWSLETTER (Clinical Legal Educ. Ass’n, Pa.), Apr. 27, 2021, at 13.
Makhlouf's Affiliations and Service to the Community
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS)
Section on Law, Medicine, and Health Care
Chair-Elect (2023); Secretary (2022)
Partnership for Better Health
Vice Chairperson (2023)
Secretary, Board of Trustees (2022-2023)
Health Equity Impact Review Committee (2022-Present)
Board of Trustees (2021-Present)
Community Policy & Engagement Committee (2020-Present)
Senior Fellows Advisory Board
Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity (AFHE) (March 2022-Present)
American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Board of Directors (2022-Present)
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
Virtual Community Ambassador for the Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence (CHARGE) (Dec. 2021-2022)
Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy
Board of Advisors (2021-Present)
Makhlouf's Presentations and Panels
The Legal Construction of Health Emergencies
- 2023 Clinical Law Review Writers’ Workshop, NYU School of Law (scheduled October 2023).
Charity Care for All: State Efforts to Ensure Equitable Access to Financial Assistance for Noncitizen Patients
- 2022 Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy Symposium, Invited Presenter, University of Houston Law Center.
Gendered Effects of U.S. Pandemic Border Policy on Migrants from Central America
- 2022 Migration and Diversity Initiative Paper Workshop, Penn State.
- 2022 Gender and COVID-19 Handbook Workshop, UC Irvine Law.
Towards Racial Justice: The Role of Medical-Legal Partnerships
- 2022 Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics Symposium, Invited Presenter, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2021 AALS Virtual Poverty Law Workshop, Selected Presenter.
Interagency Dynamics in Matters of Health and Immigration
- 2022 AALS Virtual Health Law Workshop.
- 2022 Health Law Beyond Health Law Workshop, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Bioethics, and Biotechnology, Harvard Law School.
- 2021 Clinical Law Review Writers’ Workshop, NYU School of Law.
Stemming the Shadow Pandemic: Integrating Sociolegal Needs Screening with Health Care in Contact Tracing and Beyond
- 2022 Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics Symposium, Invited Presenter, UCLA Law, Los Angeles, California.
- 2021 AALS Annual Meeting, Section on Law, Medicine, and Health Care, Selected Presenter.
Health Care Sanctuaries
- 2021 Network for Public Health Law & American Society for Law, Medicine & Ethics, Public Health Law Conference, Selected Presenter, Baltimore, MD.
- 2021 Privacy Law Scholars Conference, Selected Presenter.
- 2020 AALS Virtual Health Law Workshop.
- 2020 Annals of Health Law & Life Sciences Annual Symposium on Health Care and Policy: Viewing Health Justice Through the Lens of Public Health Crises, Selected Presenter, Beazley Institute of Health Law and Policy, Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
- 2020 Clinical Law Review Writers’ Workshop, NYU School of Law.
Immigrants and Interdependence: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposes the Folly of the New Public Charge Rule
- 2020 Mini-Conference on Coronavirus and Law, University of Oklahoma School of Law.
The Ethics of DNA Testing at the Border
- 2020 American Journal of Law & Medicine Symposium: Emerging Issues in Bioethics, Selected Presenter, Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA.
Laboratories of Exclusion: Medicaid, Federalism, and Immigrants
- 2020 AALS Virtual Poverty Law Workshop, Invited Presenter.
- 2019 Junior Faculty Workshop, Invited Presenter, University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law, Baltimore, MD.
- 2019 Clinical Law Review Writers’ Workshop, NYU School of Law, New York, NY.
- 2019 American Society for Law, Medicine & Ethics, Health Law Professors Conference, Selected Presenter, Chicago, IL.
- 2019 Junior Faculty Forum, Richmond School of Law, Richmond, VA.
Immigration Status as a Social Determinant of Health
- 2019 Creighton Law Review Symposium: Inequities and Injustice in Health Care, Invited Presenter, Creighton University School of Law, Omaha, NE.
The Public Charge Rule as Public Health Policy
- 2019 Network for Public Health Law’s Eastern Region Conference, Invited Presenter, Baltimore, MD.
- 2018 Indiana Health Law Review Symposium: The Intersection of Immigration Law and Health Policy, Invited Presenter, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis, IN.
Destigmatizing Disability in the Law of Immigration Admissions
- 2018 American Society for Law, Medicine & Ethics, Health Law Professors Conference, Cleveland, OH.
- 2018 Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics Annual Conference, Selected Presenter, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA.
- 2018 AALS Clinical Legal Education Conference, Works-in-Progress Session, Chicago, IL.
Health Justice for Immigrants
- 2017 Health Law Scholars Workshop, hosted by the American Society for Law, Medicine & Ethics and Saint Louis University Center for Health Law Studies, Selected Presenter, St. Louis, MO.
- 2017 Clinical Law Review Writers’ Workshop, NYU School of Law, New York, NY.
- 2017 American Society for Law, Medicine & Ethics, Health Law Professors Conference, Invited Panelist, Atlanta, GA.
- 2017 AALS Clinical Legal Education Conference, Works-in-Progress Session, Denver, CO.
- 2017 AALS Annual Meeting, Sections on Disability Law; Insurance Law; Law, Medicine, and Health Care; and Minority Groups Joint Program, Selected Panelist, San Francisco, CA.
Theorizing the Immigrant Child: The Case of Married Minors
- 2016 Immigration Law Teachers Workshop, Works-in-Progress Session, East Lansing, MI.
- 2016 AALS Clinical Legal Education Conference, Works-in-Progress Session, Baltimore, MD.
- 2016 Mid-Atlantic People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC.
Other Selected Presentations
“The End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Lessons Learned and the Future of Pandemic Law & Policy,” 2024 AALS Annual Meeting, Panel Organizer and Moderator (scheduled January 2024).
“Public Health Emergencies and Health Justice,” ASLME Health Law Professors Conference, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Panel Organizer and Presenter, June 8, 2023.
“The Role of MLP in Advancing Racial Justice,” Medical-Legal Partnerships: Equity, Evaluation, and Evolution, Yale Law School, March 3, 2023.
“Public Health is Universal: Building Better Engagement via Scholarship & Curriculum,” ASLME Health Law Professors Conference, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, Invited Panelist, June 3, 2022.
“Lessons for Clinicians from The Art of Gathering and Beyond,” AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education, Panel Organizer, May 12, 2022.
“Mind the Gap: Immigration Policies Can Harm Health Outcomes in the USA,” Jaharis Podcast on Health & IP, Invited Guest, May 9, 2022.
“Immigration and Health Justice,” Georgetown Immigration Law Journal Scholar Series, Invited Panelist, Mar. 21, 2022.
“Immigration and Disability Law,” Getting Radical in the South Conference, University of Texas School of Law, Invited Moderator, Feb. 15, 2022.
“Medical-Legal Partnerships: Taking Interprofessional Advocacy to the Next Level,” Summit on Health Justice, Penn State College of Medicine, Dec. 10, 2021.
“Immigrant Access to Health Care,” Penn Law American Constitution Society, Invited Speaker, Dec. 1, 2021.
“Appointments Committee Workshop,” American Association of Law Schools, Invited Panelist, Aug. 5, 2021.
“Health Equity for Children and Youth Post-COVID,” ASLME Health Law Professors Conference, Northeastern University School of Law, Panelist, June 9, 2021.
“Jay Healey Teaching Session: Radical Humanity, Vulnerability, and Community in Law Teaching and Learning,” ASLME Health Law Professors Conference, Northeastern University School of Law, Invited Panelist, June 7, 2021.
“The Law and Policy of Immigrant Access to Health Care,” Hall Center Virtual Grand Rounds, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Invited Speaker, Apr. 16, 2021.
“Immigrant Access to Health Coverage: Law and Policy,” The Division of Health Services and Behavioral Research Seminar Series, Penn State College of Medicine, Invited Guest, Nov. 17, 2020.
“COVID-19 Law and Policy Briefings: Immigration,” Public Health Law Watch, Invited Guest (with Wendy E. Parmet and Nicolas Terry), April 28, 2020.
“Breaking out of Silos: Bridging Disciplines to Create the Next Generation of Collaborators for Justice,” AALS Annual Conference, Panelist, New Orleans, LA, Jan. 4, 2019.
“Health Law Profs on Immigration Getting Coffee,” The Week in Health Law Podcast, Invited Guest (with Brietta Clark and Y.Y. Brandon Chen), October 26, 2018.
“Immigrant Eligibility for Public Benefits: What Every Advocate Should Know,” PA Legal Aid Network 2018 Statewide Conference, CLE Co-Presenter, Harrisburg, PA, September 29, 2018.
“Training Medical Residents on Legal Issues Impacting Their Patients,” Annual Meeting of The Society of Neurological Surgeons, Invited CME Presenter, Hershey, PA, May 22, 2018.
“Immigrants & Public Benefits: Hot Topics,” PA Legal Aid Network, Webinar Co-Presenter, April 11, 2018.
Numerous trainings for physicians, residents, and medical students on medical-legal partnerships and legal issues impacting low-income patients at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA.
“The Role of Medical-Legal Partnerships in Transforming Health Care,” Greater Pittsburgh Dickinson Law Alumni Association Kickoff, Invited CLE Presenter, Pittsburgh, PA, April 27, 2017.
“Medical-Legal Partnerships and Communities,” Medical-Legal Partnership Symposium: Building an Academic Agenda to Enhance Practice, Invited Panelist, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT, March 3, 2017.
“Health Disparities and Law,” Cumberland County Bar Association, Invited CLE Presenter, Carlisle, PA, December 9, 2016.
“Medical-Legal Partnership Clinics: Building Community through Concepts of Care,” American Society for Law, Medicine & Ethics, Health Law Professors Conference, Panelist, Boston, MA, June 4, 2016.
“Medical-Legal Partnerships and Other Innovations in Public Health,” Penn State Public Health Day Symposium, Invited Panelist, Summerdale, PA, May 9, 2016.
“Exploring Community Engagement Opportunities through an Interdisciplinary Partnership Lens” AALS Clinical Legal Education Conference, Panelist, Baltimore, MD, May 2, 2016.
“Legal Careers in Health Law,” Yale Law School, Invited Panelist, New Haven, CT, April 20, 2016.
“Graduate School Clinics as Innovators and Capacity Builders,” Medical-Legal Partnership Summit (a national conference on integrating health and legal care for vulnerable people), Panelist, Indianapolis, IN, April 8, 2016.
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.