Today, Governor Jerry Brown continued California’s commitment to language access in health care by signing Assembly Bill 389 into law. The new law, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) and sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), directs a general acute hospital to post its language assistance policy for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals online and requires hospital websites to include a notice about the availability of those services in the five most common non-English languages.
“Millions of Californians are not proficient in English, and this law will help them find culturally and linguistically appropriate health care when they need it,” Assemblymember Chau said. “Language barriers can result in serious consequences, such as higher rates of hospitalization, drug complications, and not returning for follow-ups after an emergency room visit. The action taken by the Governor will give all patients the ability to better navigate our hospital system, which will result in improved health outcomes.”
Existing law requires hospitals to annually report to the California Department of Public Health their policies for assisting patients with language needs. Currently these plans are only available in paper form and are not publicly reported. This makes it difficult to ensure that hospitals are meeting the needs of their LEP patients. AB 389 provides greater transparency by centralizing this information and directly connecting LEP patients to language assistance services on hospital websites.
“California has a long history of promoting language access in its hospitals,” said Sarah de Guia, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “We have the means to better inform consumers about their rights to language assistance. With policies and notices now available online, consumers will have greater access to information and services the law already guarantees.”
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
We need your support to ensure consumers are informed of their right to language assistance when accessing hospital services. Please send in your letter of support for AB 389 (Chau). Make your voice heard and urge the Assembly Committee on Health to advance this bill forward. Letters of support must be received by Wednesday, April 1st, so download and send in your letter TODAY.
For millions of Californians, adequate language assistance is essential to accessing basic health care services. More than 40% of Californians speak a language other than English at home and one in five Californians are Limited English Proficient (LEP), meaning they speak English less than very well. Prior to full implementation, projections found that nearly 40% of those newly eligible for health care subsidies in Covered California would be LEP. Failure to provide language access can lead to serious consequences, such as higher rates of hospitalizations, drug complications, and not returning for follow-ups after an emergency room visit.
AB 389 requires hospitals to post on their website their policy for providing language assistance to LEP patients and 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. By law, hospitals are required to develop and submit to the state their policy for ensuring patients with language barriers receive appropriate language assistance. This bill improves access to this information and ensures consumers are informed about their right to language assistance.
Language access in our health care system has long been a point of emphasis for our work at CPEHN. For example, in 2003, CPEHN sponsored SB 853 (Escutia), the Health Care Language Assistance Act. The first of its kind in the country, this law now holds health plans accountable for the provision of linguistically-appropriate services.
The reason that laws like SB 853 and other language access measures are necessary is because of California’s uniquely diverse population. As you can see in our Friday Facts table, over 40 different languages are spoken in San Diego County alone.
San Diego County has a large (92,836) Tagalog-speaking population, and roughly 2 out of every 5 of these individuals are Limited English Proficient (LEP), meaning they speak English less than very well. Almost two-thirds of the county’s large Vietnamese-speaking population is LEP, as is half of all those who speak Chinese. The county is also home to over 320,000 Spanish-speakers who are LEP.
Such large numbers of LEP individuals in San Diego County shows the importance of providing linguistically accessible services. Navigating the health care system is challenging enough when you receive services in your primary language, imagine how difficult it would be with a language barrier.
Below is a press release sent out today by Assemblymember Ed Chau's office introducing a bill that CPEHN is sponsoring. Be sure to check back here on our blog for updates on this important legislation in the coming months!
Sacramento — Today, Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) introduced AB 389, which would direct a general acute hospital to post its language assistance policy for limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals online and require the California Department of Public Health and the Office of Statewide Planning and Development to post this information on their websites, as well.
“For many Californian’s who are not proficient in English, the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate staff and services remains a major barrier to accessing adequate healthcare,” said Assemblymember Chau. “Failure to provide language access can lead to serious consequences, such as higher rates of hospitalization, drug complications, and not returning for follow-ups after an emergency room visit.”
California’s Kopp Act requires all hospitals in the state to file a copy of their language assistance policy, and annual updates, with the Department of Public Health (DPH). The intent is to ensure that every resident, regardless of language capability, can access health services in a hospital setting. However, hospitals currently submit their policies and procedures to the respective DPH Licensing and Certification District Office. Having the policies spread out makes it difficult for policymakers and the public to access them and to ensure the appropriate protections and practices set forth by the State are being adhered to. AB 389 would provide greater transparency and oversight of the Kopp Act by centralizing this information to confirm that hospitals are complying with this key accountability measure and meeting the needs of LEP patients.