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Cultural and Linguistic Competency

Cultural and Linguistic Competency

Learn about efforts to ensure that our health care system provides culturally and linguistically appropriate care.

Over 40 percent of Californians speak a language other than English at home. Ensuring that all patients receive information and services in a language they understand helps improve the quality of care, reduce complications, and increase patient satisfaction.

Medi-Cal Language Access Standards Updated

Recently, California's Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) revised language access standards for the written documents that must be translated for Limited English Proficient (LEP) consumers in Medi-Cal managed care plans. In addition to the current thresholds, plans are now required to provide translated written documents when 5% of recipients in a county are LEP and speak the same primary language. This revision will particularly help LEP beneficiaries in rural counties access health care in their native language. Oral interpretation services must be provided to LEP enrollees in any language.

The new standard states that translated written documents are required when: "a population group of mandatory Medi-Cal beneficiaries residing in a service area who indicate their primary language as other than English, and meet a numeric threshold of 3,000 or 5% of the beneficiary population, whichever is lower." You can download the new revised language access standards here.

For more information, including the county-by-county breakdown, check out our recent policy alert.

Translated Prescription Drug Labels

In California, 40% of individuals speak a language other than English at home, and an estimated 6 to 7 million Californians are Limited English Proficient (LEP) – meaning they speak English less than “very well.” Research shows the serious health implications of medical errors associated with misuse of prescription drugs. The Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured, or killed each year because of medication errors. For California this translates into a $17.7 billion dollar problem affecting over 150,000 patients.

CPEHN continues to advocate in Sacramento so that prescription drug labels meet the needs of California’s LEP patients. Currently, translated materials are provided by the state Board of Pharmacy, but not all pharmacies are using these resources. Visit our California Legislation page for the latest updates on our efforts to increase the use of translated drug labels.

Find valuable resources, such as sample consumer notices, links to the HMO complaint line, and "I speak" cards to help inform people about their rights to language services.