HEALTH ACCESS ALERT

Monday, September 15, 2003

HEALTH BILLS ON GOVERNOR’S DESK

* Alert attached on SB 853 (Escutia), on language access in health plans

The landmark SB 2 (Burton) is accompanied by other health-related bills that passed the Legislature in the last few weeks. Governor Davis has until October 12th to sign (or veto) the bills now on his desk. Health care advocates should call, write, or fax Governor Davis to urge him to sign SB 2 (Burton) and other important legislation.

BELOW and ATTACHED are alerts to support SB 853 (Escutia), to help ensure culturally and linguistically appropriate care. This bill has been supported by a range of advocacy organizations, including California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Western Center on Law and Poverty, as well as Health Access California.

ACTION ALERT!!!

Ask Governor Davis to Sign SB 853 (Escutia): Health Plans and Language Access

Culturally and linguistically competent care is essential for California’s

communities of color. California’s communities becoming increasingly

diverse and integrated. According to 2000 Census data, communities of color

represent 53% of the state’s population. Almost 40% of Californians speak a

language other than English at home.

And yet, there are no specific standards or requirements on commercial

health plans to provide for culturally and linguistically competent care.

Studies show that the lack of language services affects access to health

care services and preventive care, results in greater emergency room use,

impedes patients from comprehending diagnoses and asking questions, and

increases the likelihood of patients missing appointments. Each person’s

health impacts us all, and with culture strongly influencing one’s

perception of disease, prevention, and behavior modification, the need for

culturally and linguistically appropriate health services becomes

imperative.

SB 853 (Escutia) will address this problem. Specifically, the bill will:

· Require the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) to develop standards for access to qualified health interpreters for persons who have limited English proficiency and requirements for informing enrollees of the ability to access interpreters.

· Specify the documents that must be translated and specify the formula for determining threshold languages.

· Require that plans report to DMHC on their efforts to improve care to

diverse communities.

· Require DMCH to monitor and enforce compliance.

SB 853 will ensure that people of limited English proficiency have quality

and accessible health care, and that communication and/or language barriers

which compromise health are eliminated. With California’s communities

becoming increasingly diverse and integrated, SB 853 will help to improve

access to needed health care and lead to increased utilization of services.

We need to urge Governor Davis to sign this important bill, which is now on

his desk. Please send letter to the Governor at:

The Honorable Gray Davis

Governor of California

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814

fax: 916/445-4633

For more information on this subject, contact:

Martin Martinez, MPP

Policy Director

The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

654 Thirteenth St.

Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 832-1160 phone

(510) 832-1175 fax

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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