Objective: Energy insecurity may result in adverse consequences for children's health, particularly for children with special health needs or chronic health conditions. We aimed to determine whether a multimodal intervention addressing energy insecurity within the framework of a medical-legal partnership (MLP) resulted in an increase in the provision of certifications of medical need for utility coverage in an inner city academic primary care practice.
Methods: Working within a medical-legal partnership, we standardized criteria for providers approving medical need utility certification requests. We compared prior-year utility certification requests and approvals (pre-intervention) with the intervention year for families who reported energy insecurity on a waiting-room screening questionnaire.
Results: Between the first and second years of the study, certification of medical need approvals increased by 65%, preventing utility shut-offs for 396 more families with vulnerable children.
Conclusions: Energy insecurity can be screened for and addressed in a busy urban practice, potentially improving the wellbeing of vulnerable children.