Meaningful Access for Individuals with Limited English Proficiency
Section 1557, Final Rule of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 includes provisions to ensure meaningful access for individuals with limited English language proficiency. This rule is applicable to covered entities and providers who receive any federal funding through The Department of Health & Human Services.
Posted in Risk Management on Thursday, July 28, 2016
On May 18, 2016, Section 1557, Final Rule of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was signed. The rule will be effective on July 18, 2016 and is applicable to covered entities and providers who receive any federal funding through The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) such as: Medicaid, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program and meaningful use payments.
What does the Final Rule mean?
The Final Rule includes provisions to ensure meaningful access for individuals with limited English language proficiency.
The rule’s new guidelines clarify steps to prevent discrimination based on national origin. They do this by requiring reasonable access for individuals with limited English proficiency who are eligible to be served or likely to be encountered within the entities health programs and activities.
Included in these requirements, along with the definition of an individual with limited English proficiency, are the steps covered entities and providers must take to inform individuals of the availability of communication assistance.
What do interpreters and translators have to do with the Final Rule?
Since the Final Rule’s guidelines mention both interpreters and translators, it is a good time to make sure you understand the difference between the two. Additionally, you should be able to feel confident when hiring and using interpreters and translators at your practice.
While both terms – interpreters and translators – are often used interchangeably, they are different and the individuals involved possess unique skill sets. Where interpreters deal with oral or signed communication, translators deal with written interpretations from one language to another. Therefore, interpreters may not necessarily be translators, translators may not necessarily be interpreters and bilingual individuals may be neither an interpreter nor a translator.
The Final Rule prohibits covered entities and physicians from using remote and low quality video interpreting services, or from relying on unqualified staff or translators when providing language assistance.
What does the Final Rule say about taglines?
The Final Rule requires covered entities to post taglines in the top 15 languages spoken by individuals with limited English proficiency. These taglines need to state the availability of language assistance at your practice. Fortunately, the HHS offers a document on translated resources for covered entities.
For more information on this topic, the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care and the American Translators Association have developed a “What’s in a Word?” guide. The guide is designed to help providers better understand the role of interpreters and translators in their practice. This guide can be a helpful resource as your practice prepares to meet the Final Rule’s new guidelines.