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Food Stamps and Health Care Access for Low-Income Families: Update During COVID-19


Speaker(s): Amy E. Lowenstein, Saima Akhtar
Recorded on: Apr. 16, 2020
PLI Program #: 299611

Saima Akhtar is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Public Benefits Unit in the Albany office of Empire Justice Center.  She works on issues that include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (food stamps), cash public assistance, emergency assistance, and subsidized childcare.  Saima represents low income clients both in court and in administrative proceedings, and has served as counsel to the class in a number of class action cases in New York’s State and Federal Courts including Brooks v. Roberts, Richard C. v. Proud, and Karamalla v. Divine.  She has also provided continuing legal education sessions for the New York State Bar Association, The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Practicing Law Institute, and the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association on topics such as SNAP basics, emergency assistance benefits in New York, and basic lawyering skills for new attorneys.  Saima currently serves on the board of directors for New York’s Early Care and Learning Council, where she is the Treasurer and Chair of the finance committee. She is a graduate of Albany Law School of Union University and holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy from the University at Albany. She is a recipient of Albany Law School’s Edward M. Cameron Memorial Prize for her contributions to the area of public interest law and was a 2006 Fellow of the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society at the University at Albany.


Amy Lowenstein is a supervising attorney at the Pennsylvania Health Law Project’s Philadelphia office.  She works to improve and strengthen Medicaid coverage and services for Pennsylvanians through policy analysis, systems advocacy and direct representation; and provides training and support to community-based organizations through in-person trainings, webinars and written health policy updates.  Prior to joining PHLP, Amy represented health care consumers and people with disabilities in New York through policy advocacy, litigation and direct services at Empire Justice Center, Disability Rights New York and New York Legal Assistance Group.  Amy received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her B.A. in history from Wesleyan University.