Does your organization provide interpretation or translation for limited-English speakers?
If you answered “yes,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would like to hear from you.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act asserts that healthcare organizations and programs that accept funding from HHS must provide meaningful access to care for limited-English patients and beneficiaries. This includes written communication notifying them of free language-access services like interpretation and translation.
The Trump Administration wants to remove this and other important provisions, including removing quality standards for video remote interpretation (VRI) and recommendations that covered entities develop language access plans.
An estimated 25 million people in the U.S. are limited English proficient (LEP), according to the Census Bureau. This means they are entitled to language assistance when seeking health care under Section 1557. Patients facing language barriers have a higher risk of health care complications because they may misunderstand a doctor’s instructions. If the proposal is adopted, it is likely that more patients would not understand information involving their health.
The public has the opportunity to provide feedback on the removal of these provisions. As these changes would impact your patients, we wanted to alert you of this proposal – and let you know the deadline for any member of the public to submit comments on these changes is quickly approaching.
Please take just five minutes today to tell the federal government about the impact that any of these has on your limited-English patients:
- Providing notices of availability of language services
- Ensuring access to high quality video remote interpretation
You may also describe how your language access plan helps promote meaningful access to all patients.
You don’t need to be a lobbyist, a CEO, or a language access advocate to submit comments. You just need to tell your story. For example:
- Do you think notices about the availability of language services that your organization provides result in improved access to care for patients with limited-English proficiency?
- Have your Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores improved as a result of your organization’s adherence to your language access plan?
- Has high-quality VRI improved the experience for your limited-English patients?
- Have you seen a correlation between the increased use of high-quality video remote interpretation and improved communication between your LEP patients and their providers?
The federal government needs to know how these important civil rights protections enhance understanding for your patients, improve efficiencies within your organization, and – most importantly – improve quality of care for all of your patients, regardless of the language they speak.
The Administration must consider all comments before finalizing its proposed changes. Further, if a legal challenge is launched in opposition to these regulatory changes, all comments submitted are considered by the court as part of the “administrative record” to determine if the Administration’s changes are legal. Vigorous public feedback is critically important to any rulemaking process, and we need your help to demonstrate the widespread opposition to these changes.
Your comments can be submitted here through a comment portal developed by the National Health Law Program, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), the Joint National Committee for Languages and other non-profit organizations.