AAPCHO Submits Comments Calling for Stronger Language Assistance Services
November 9, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Development and Public Affairs
Updated Rule Will Help Ensure AA & NHOPIs and Other Underserved Communities Have Equal Access to Health Care
WASHINGTON – The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), today submitted comments on the Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities proposed rule published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The proposed rule would establish key provisions to prohibit discrimination in health care, including requirements related to language assistance services that would protect the rights of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders (AA & NHOPI) to access care and coverage.
“We are committed to ensuring that all individuals, including AA & NHOPIs, have equal and fair access to health care, regardless of the language they speak,” said Jeffrey Caballero, executive director of AAPCHO. “Improved language service requirements and stronger nondiscrimination protections are crucial to achieving this goal.”
AA & NHOPIs are the fastest growing minority group in the United States and are highly diverse in their language and health needs, representing more than 50 ethnic groups and 100 languages. One-third of the population is considered Limited English Proficient (LEP) and is significantly impacted by language assistance services in health care.
AAPCHO submitted comments in support of the proposed rule and urged the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), responsible for enforcing the regulations, to ensure that the final rule contains provisions that guarantee AA & NHOPIs and other LEP individuals have equal access to the health care they need. In its comments, AAPCHO recommended:
- Requiring written translation services in states or service areas that have five percent or 1,000 LEP persons who speak any one language;
- That notices sent to newly covered individuals be available in the top 15 languages of LEP individuals in the state;
- Including an in-language tagline on vital documents to inform LEP individuals of their language rights;
- Establishing a stronger definition of who is a “qualified interpreter” within health services;
- Ensuring proper patient data collection; and
- Ensuring that the entities covered by this regulation are held accountable.
“We look forward to continuing to work with OCR, our member health centers and other partners to ensure that these regulations are implemented, and that all communities can truly benefit from the Affordable Care Act,” Caballero added. A copy of AAPCHO’s full comments is available at http://bit.ly/1SboyiT.
AAPCHO is a national association of 35 community health organizations dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration, and leadership that improves the health status and access of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders in the United States. For more information on AAPCHO and its Guiding Principles and Values, please visit www.aapcho.org.
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Kristine Cecile Alarcon