December 18, 2023

Willkie has been named a “2023 Pro Bono Innovator” by Bloomberg Law for its groundbreaking pro bono work to secure transgender health care rights and expanded dental coverage for millions of Medicaid recipients in New York State.

Bloomberg Law recognized Willkie among the honorees that “embody innovation and dedication in their pro bono work for the underserved,” highlighting the firm’s recent success in two landmark cases – Lange v. Houston County and Ciaramella v. McDonald – that respectively upheld the right of a deputy sheriff in Georgia to gender-affirming care and the right of Medicaid recipients in New York to medically necessary dental care.

Bloomberg Law profiled a Willkie team led by Wesley R. Powell, Co-Chair of the Pro Bono Practice Group, in a Q&A feature on the historic cases, the firm’s innovative litigation strategies and its commitment to achieving justice for its pro bono clients.

“In Lange and Ciaramella, the most innovative aspect of our work was our team’s focus on holding government entities accountable for denying health care coverage,” the Willkie team said.

Willkie leveraged its strengths in class action litigation, as well as the tenacity and passion of its lawyers, and the subject-matter knowledge of its co-counsel to far-reaching effect. Lange determined that employers cannot exclude coverage for gender-affirming care under its employee health insurance plan, setting a precedent which will protect other transgender individuals against discriminatory policies.

Ciaramella secured landmark changes to law mandating expanded dental coverage that is expected to impact approximately five million New Yorkers with Medicaid coverage statewide – and provides a blueprint for advocates in other states to challenge similar coverage restrictions.

Read more about the Lange case here, and the Ciaramella case here.

The Q&A profile in Bloomberg Law featured partner Wesley R. Powell, counsel Jill Grant (elected partner effective January 1, 2024), and associates M. Annie Houghton-Larsen, Catherine Fata and Sean Lavin.

View Willkie’s “2023 Pro Bono Innovator” profile here (subscription may be required).

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