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National advocacy and health policy initiatives regarding language access: Impact on communities of color

Steve Hitov, JD, National Health Law Program, Inc., 1101 14th Street, N.W., Suite #405, Washington, DC 20005, 202-289-7661, hitov@healthlaw.org


National policy developments regarding language services for limited English proficient individuals have a direct impact on access to health care for Asian and Pacific Islanders and other communities of color.  Recent national developments include Executive Order 13166 (“Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency”), the recently revised HHS Office for Civil Rights “Policy Guidance on the Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination As It Affects Persons with Limited English Proficiency”, introduction of the Healthcare Equality and Accountability Access Act of 2003, and available reimbursement for language services for Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees.  In response to increased national attention to the issue, states are also passing their own language access laws. 


Language barriers preclude effective communication between patient and provider and can lead to medical errors and/or increased medical costs.  Effective advocacy and health policy activities are essential to increase and improve language services for limited English proficient Asian and Pacific Islanders and other people of color and ensure their meaningful access to health care services. 


This presentation will discuss federal and state policy initiatives related to language access and how they affect Asian and Pacific Islanders and communities of color. The presenter also will discuss potential models for providing language services in a variety of health care settings including small provider offices, hospitals, clinics, and state/local benefit offices.  In addition, advocacy and education strategies for expanding funding for language services will be discussed.


Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Ethnic Minorities, Cultural Competency

Related Web page: www.nhelp.org/race.shtml#ling

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Contemporary Health Policy Challenges among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA