Protect Language Access in Healthcare for Minority Populations: How to Make Your Voice Heard

Health Care InterpretationThis week we all have an opportunity to protect language access in healthcare for minority populations by submitting comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a proposed plan to remove safeguards against discrimination in healthcare.

9% of the United States population is limited in their use of the English language, and they are entitled to language access in health care settings under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

Research has found the use of professional medical interpreters to positively impact patient care. The use of professional interpreters has been associated with improved clinical care for limited-English proficient (LEP) patients, who are at a higher risk for patient safety events due to a language barrier.

According to research, LEP patients also have greater difficulty understanding discharge instructions, including how to manage their condition, take their medications, recognize symptoms that should prompt a return to care, and know when to follow up.

One thing is vitally important – professional language services are critical to providing meaningful access to care for limited-English proficient patients, who experience many barriers to accessing care.
 

Click to Submit Your Comments to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Changes proposed to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act issued by the Department of Health and Human Services remove protections against discrimination for limited-English speakers and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals, including Video Remote Interpretation quality standards and written notices of free interpretation and translation services.

Removal of such provisions could result in:

  • Discrimination
  • A greater number of miscommunication errors that have clinical consequences
  • Barriers to accessing health care services (a higher number of LEP individuals not accessing care)
  • LEP patients may not able to understand information concerning their health

Whether you’re a healthcare professional who knows the impact that language assistance has had for your patients, or you simply believe that every person has the right to communicate without barriers in health care, there is an opportunity to have your voice heard. 
 

Protect Language Access in Healthcare for Minority Populations: How to Make Your Voice Heard

 

The proposal is open for public comment until August 13 at federalregister.gov.

 
There is less that one week left to make your voice heard. When submitting your comments, here are a few things that may be helpful for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to know…

  • The impact of quality standards for limited-English proficient and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing patients
  • The impact of notices of availability for language services
  • How your language access program has positively impacted patient care

 
Navigating the healthcare system can be difficult for anyone, but it becomes much more difficult and stressful for the 25 million Americans with limited-English proficiency. If you believe removing minority healthcare protections would negatively impact patients, make your voice heard. Submit your comments here by August 13th, 2019.

 

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) also facilitates letters to HHS through their advocacy portal, which you can find here.

 
Protect Language Access in Healthcare for Minority Populations by making your voice heard before August 13th.
 

Since 1991, Telelanguage has helped thousands of healthcare organizations to improve language access programs through high-quality medical interpretation and translation services. We know firsthand how important language access is for limited-English proficient and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing patients. We believe all healthcare organizations should have affordable access to language services. Have questions about language services in healthcare? Telelanguage can help. Contact us for information or call Telelanguage at 1-888-983-5352.

Best Practices for Using Telephonic Interpreters in Hospitals | Telelanguage

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