Peter Travitsky ’14 has been awarded the Borchard Foundation Center on Law & Aging Fellowship. The Borchard Foundation Center on Law & Aging is dedicated, through education, research and service, to helping improve the quality of life for elderly people, including those who are poor or otherwise isolated by lack of education, language, culture, disability, or other barriers. The Foundation awards three fellowships per year nationwide. Peter’s fellowship project will be hosted by New York Legal Assistance Group’s (NYLAG) Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program, and will focus on education and advocacy for low income senior citizens who face a spate of changes due to recent health care law reforms in New York.
NYLAG is a multi-practice 501(c)(3) public interest law firm that offers free civil legal assistance to low income New Yorkers, including dual-eligible Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries. “Dual-eligibles” often suffer from chronic medical conditions and live at or below poverty. As a 2014-2015 Borchard Fellow at NYLAG, Peter will provide direct legal services and education to low-income caregivers of dual-eligibles, with an emphasis on caregivers of those dual-eligibles who have cognitive impairment, as New York transitions administration of health and long term care for dual-eligibles to managed care. He will also compile data on favorable and unfavorable appeal outcomes for various services offered by managed care plans, and produce tools to promote informed plan selection for consumers, best practices for advocates appealing service denials, and sound policy recommendations for aging in place.
Peter grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn in a close-knit family. His maternal grandparents survived the Holocaust and his paternal grandfather, a disabled World War II veteran, lived with his family for most of Peter’s life. “My grandparents have each in their own ways been huge influences, and have made me aware of the inherent inequalities senior citizens face.”
Peter earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work at the New York University School of Social Work in May 2005 and May 2006. He was drawn to law school with the goal of becoming a more dynamic advocate following a career as a professional community social worker with senior citizens, and following six years of service as a personal care aide to an engaging and intelligent man declining from dementia. “While I was a social worker I was frequently calling lawyers and, along the way, I realized the power that law would give me as a social worker and that social work would give me as a lawyer.”
While at BLS, Peter devoted his extracurricular time to serving the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. During his 1L summer, he interned at the Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program, where he advised clients, caregivers, and advocates on Medicaid, and SSI-related due process. During his second year, he was a member of the BLS New York City Civil Court Consumer Law Clinic, and a law clerk at the Office of the Inspector General for the New York State Unified Court System, under the Managing Inspector General for Fiduciary Appointments, which investigates complaints against court employees and fiduciaries. During his third year, he worked with the New York State Mental Hygiene Legal Service, 1st Department, Guardianship Team in the fall, and spent his spring semester working in the new BLS Elder Rights Clinic, a collaboration between Legal Services NYC, Brooklyn Branch, and the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention. During his time at BLS, he also did pro bono work for the BLS Elderlaw Society, in coordination with the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, to help families secure guardianships of loved ones.
As a BLS Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellow, Peter was a summer law clerk in Washington, D.C., for AARP Foundation Litigation’s Housing, Low Income Benefits, and Consumer Law Teams. Additionally, as a BLS Health Law and Policy Fellow, he researched the common interests of managed care stakeholders and advocates of supported decision-making, in order to further the dialogue on alternatives to guardianship.
“I have had many professors along the way at BLS who encouraged me and inspired me, including, and especially, my clinical professors, Jane Landry-Reyes, Deirdre Lok, and Sidney Cherubin, and many professionals who supervised me in the field, but the person who stands out is Professor Karen Porter,” said Travitsky of the Director of the BLS Center for Health, Science, and Public Policy. “She has been a great mentor and was a rallying force in my application for the Borchard Fellowship.”