Lawmakers consider new ‘hub’ to ensure patients get health care in their preferred language – Daily News

In California, there are policies that aim to ensure that people with English-speaking disabilities can still access and understand health care prognosis or care instructions in the language they speak.

However, that’s not always what happens, said Sen. Dave Min, and there isn’t a dedicated office to take over when that’s a problem.

And when people can’t get care in a language they understand, it can lead to longer hospital stays, difficulty following discharge instructions and a higher likelihood of hospital readmissions, Min said at a hearing. last hearing.

The Irvine Democrat is proposing a new “center,” an Office of Language Access, within the California Health and Human Services Agency that could oversee making multilingual services and programs available to patients.

The new center, according to the bill, would help California patients receive aftercare instructions in their own language. Or, if someone is unable to get information about their diagnosis from the doctor’s office in that language, the new office can serve as a resource.

“Medical care can be scary as it is, and a little confusing,” Min said. “There’s a lot of evidence to suggest if you get health care translated into your native language, outcomes improve.”

More than 44% of California households speak a language other than English at home, according to US Census data. In comparison, 22% of US households report speaking a different language at home.

California already has certain requirements aimed at helping people with limited English proficiency. CalHHS, for example, adopted a policy in 2023 that required its departments to create plans to provide “meaningful access to information, programs, benefits, and services for people with disabilities in English and to ensure that language does not be an obstacle to vital health and social access. services.”

While good in theory, Min argues that the various regulations in place “don’t always happen in real life, despite the money and effort we’ve put into the legislature.”

As the analysis for his bill says: “There is no designated office within CalHHS to provide critical oversight, accountability, and coordination across its various departments and offices to ensure that (Limited English Proficiency) individuals have meaningful access in government programs and services.”

So the idea for a new center, according to the bill, is to be a centralized coordinating role for CalHHS “focused on building an infrastructure of language services to implement” its language access plans, to provide translated documents and conduct periodic updates in the country. agency language plans.

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