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New Law Strengthens Consumer Protections in Medi-Cal

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Law Strengthens Consumer Protections in Medi-Cal

AB 505 Protects Long-Standing Language Assistance Requirements

OAKLAND, Calif. – On September 29th, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law critical consumer protections for Limited English Proficient individuals in the Medi-Cal program. Assembly Bill 505 codifies the language assistance requirements in Medi-Cal managed care plans. Authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (District 46) and sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), AB 505 cements as law health plan requirements to provide oral interpretation and written translation services to their LEP enrollees.

“Over 15 million Californians speak a language other than English at home and nearly 1 in 5 people in the state are Limited English Proficient,” Assemblymember Nazarian said. “By codifying these important language access requirements, Medi-Cal managed care recipients can rest assured that they will be able to understand the care options available to them. This will go a long way toward increasing efficiency and lowering costs within the program while ensuring all recipients know their rights as consumers.”

This new law comes at a key time for the Medi-Cal program, which has seen enrollment surge as a result of the expansions within the federal Affordable Care Act. California’s diverse communities of color represent a majority of these new enrollees, and over a third speak English less than very well and are considered Limited English Proficient. For over 20 years, Medi-Cal managed care plans have had to provide oral interpretation and written translations; however, the requirements were only written into contracts between the Department of Health Care Services and health care plans. This left the requirements vulnerable. The signing of AB 505 ensures newly eligible LEP enrollees and continuing beneficiaries have equal access to health care services.  

“This is an exciting time in California,” said Sarah de Guia, executive director of CPEHN. “We are covering more people than ever before through the Medi-Cal program, which underscores the importance of LEP enrollees having meaningful access to care. This new law shows that language access is a priority in California and that we care about the health of all of the residents of our state.”

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The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) works to eliminate health disparities by advocating for public policies and sufficient resources to address the health needs of communities of color.