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Language Access

Blog Posts tagged "Language Access"

Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 137, a bill by Senator Ed Hernandez, to ensure accurate, updated, and standardized provider directories. Co-sponsored by California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), Consumers Union, and Health Access California, SB 137 will:

  • Make updated provider directories available to consumers both when they are shopping for plans and when they are using their benefits.
  • Update provider directories weekly—better than the federal standard of at least monthly.
  • Providing accurate information on important specifics such as office location and whether the provider is accepting new patients.
  • Allow consumers from diverse backgrounds to identify health plans and providers that can best meet their needs by indicating what languages other than English (if any) providers and their staff speak (for more details and rationale, see separate SB 137 fact sheet).

The measure had strong support from a range of consumer and community groups, with new urgency given the additional Californians in coverage under the Affordable Care Act — some with new ability to shop but needing accurate provider to make informed plan selections; others newly insured but who live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford inadvertent out-of-network costs.

Today, Governor Jerry Brown strengthened access to important health insurance information for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Californians by signing Senate Bill 388 into law. The new law, authored by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), requires a health insurance plan’s summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to be translated into non-English languages spoken by a significant portion of their enrollees. The summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) outlines important information in a health insurance plan including the benefits, costs, and coverage limitations for each health plan. The Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance are also required to make translated templates of the SBC and glossaries of common insurance terms available on their websites.

“As we expand health care access in the nation’s most diverse state it is critical that Californians get the information they need in the most useful way, which means in their home language whenever possible,” Senator Mitchell said. “This law sets a new standard for the right to know in health care by going far to eliminate language as a barrier.” 

More than 40% of Californians speak a language other than English at home, and an estimated 6 to 7 million Californians (or one in five) are LEP, meaning they speak English less than very well.

Existing California law requires health plans and insurers to translate vital documents into languages other than English for their non-English speaking enrollees. The languages for which written translations are required are based on the size of each plan and the populations they serve. SB 388 makes clear that plans must translate the SBC and the glossary of common insurance terms according to California’s existing language access laws.

We are very close to enacting some important changes to our health care system and your support can make a difference! All three of our sponsored bills are on their way to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk and your letters of support can help encourage him to sign them into law. The bills will help consumers enroll in and access the care they need. Please send in letters of support today!
 
Translating Consumer Tool: SB 388 (Mitchell) requires health insurance plans to translate the “summary of benefits and coverage” – a tool that helps consumers understand their benefits – into non-English languages based on California’s language access requirements. It also requires the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available on their website the translated templates of the tool. Download and send in a sample letter of support for SB 388 here.

Improving Provider Directories: SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and which languages are spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download and send in a sample letter of support for SB 137 here.

Your support is needed to ensure consumers are informed about their health insurance benefits and know which doctors and hospitals are in their networks. Urge the California Assembly Committee on Health to pass legislation requiring translation of a health plan's summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and ensuring provider directories are accurate and up-to-date. Please send in your letter of support today for SB 388 (Mitchell) and SB 137 (Hernandez)
 
SB 388 (Mitchell) requires a health insurance plan’s SBC to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites. Download a sample letter of support for SB 388. Letters must be received by 12:00 PM on Wednesday, June 24th.

SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and the languages spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download a sample letter of support for SB 137. Letters must be received by 12:00 PM on Wednesday, July 1st.

Hearings for the bills are scheduled for:

Your letters are needed to ensure consumers are informed of their right to language assistance in hospitals and to expand access to translated prescription labels. Please send in your letters of support for AB 389 (Chau) and AB 1073 (Ting). 

AB 389 (Chau) requires hospitals to post on their websites their policies for providing language assistance to Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients. The bill also requires two state agencies, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and the California Department of Public Health, to post hospital language assistance policies on their website. This bill improves access to this information for all Californians and ensures consumers are informed about their right to language assistance. Download a sample letter of support today! Letters must be received by Wednesday, June 3rd.

AB 1073 (Ting) requires pharmacists to use standardized written translations of prescription directions developed by the Board of Pharmacy, which are currently available in Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, and Russian. Sponsored by the California Board of Pharmacy, AB 1073 helps reduce medical errors, increases patient compliance, and meets the needs of LEP patients. Download a sample letter of support today! Letters must be received by Monday, June 8th.

The hearings are scheduled for:

AB 389 (Chau)
June 10, 2015, 1:30 pm
Senate Committee on Health
State Capitol, Room 4203

After an eventful few weeks, Friday Facts is back! May is both Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month, so today’s edition of Friday Facts will focus on the disparate rates of high blood pressure in California’s Asian subgroups.

As you can see from the chart, there are some dramatic variations in high blood pressure rates across the Asian ethnic subgroups. Japanese adults, for example, have the highest rate at 35.4%, which is higher than other populations, including Chinese (18.2%) and South Asian (8.2%) adults.

In attempts to understand and address these disparities between ethnic subgroups, researchers have found that physicians should consider the role culture plays when treating patients for high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.

“Our results suggest that susceptible populations like the Filipino and Japanese subgroups may warrant early and aggressive intervention in blood pressure reduction to help decrease cardiovascular risk,” said Dr. Powell Jose, Research Physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute. “Physicians should attempt to better understand cultural differences and barriers that may influence diet and health behaviors in Asian-American subgroups. Nutrition and lifestyle counseling must be offered to these higher risk populations to help control hypertension in addition to medical therapy, when indicated.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has proposed a regulation to require electronic health record systems to document and use disaggregated data on race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, and social and behavioral factors that influence health. This data will make it easier to identify disparities and achieve health equity. 

The regulation would require up to 900 race and ethnicity categories and up to 600 language categories, the first time that any federal department has required comprehensive disaggregation. This also would be the first time that sexual orientation and gender identity data would be routinely collected.
 
Public comments supporting this proposed regulation are needed. Please submit yours today! 
While comments submitted by organizations are important, it also is very important for individual members of the public to submit personalized comments.
 
Please submit your comments online no later than 2 pm PT on May 29, 2015. Click on the blue "Comment Now!" button on the top right of the page. You can either type in your comments or upload a file from your computer.
 
You can use these key messages to guide your comments.

A bill that will help Californians better understand their medication is making its way through the legislature. AB 1073, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, would increase access to translated prescription drug labels. Specifically, AB 1073 would require the California Board of Pharmacy to post on its website translated standardized directions for use in at least five languages other than English (Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese). It would also require pharmacists to provide these translated directions for their Limited English Proficient patients.

CPEHN Policy Advocate Kimberly Chen appeared on Capitol Public Radio this week to discuss how this bill would impact California's communities of color and Limited English Proficient populations:

"We know from research that patients can often misunderstand the prescription medication information, and for limited English proficient patients, these misunderstandings can be much more severe and much more frustrating," says Kimberly Chen of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, a supporter of the bill.

"By ensuring that they have access to medical information, it will help reduce medical errors, and ensure that patients are complying with their prescription information. It ultimately helps meet the needs of Californians."

We need your support to ensure consumers are informed about their health insurance benefits and know what doctors and hospitals are in their networks. Urge the Senate Committee on Health to pass legislation requiring translation of a health plan's summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and ensuring provider directories are accurate and up-to-date. Please send in your letter of support for SB 388 (Mitchell) and SB 137 (Hernandez)

Letters of support must be received by Wednesday, April 8th, so download and send in your letters TODAY.

SB 388 (Mitchell) requires a health insurance plan’s SBC to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites. Download a sample letter of support for SB 388.

SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and the languages spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download a sample letter of support for SB 137.