Language Should Not be a Barrier to Good Health Care

Development of guidelines to improve care for patients with limited English proficiency

From 2001 to 2002, staff at the National Alliance for Hispanic Health monitored and informed health professional associations and community-based organizations about implementation of a presidential executive order on the provision of services to people with limited English proficiency.

Key Results

The alliance:

  • Developed four background papers on ensuring access to health services for people with limited English proficiency.
  • Disseminated information on the limited English proficiency guidelines.
  • Built relationships among health professional associations to support the delivery of health services to people with limited English proficiency.

Key Recommendations

A publication produced by the project team, entitled Agreement Points from Executive Session on Limited English Proficiency Services, comprised of a set of common beliefs and six points of agreement, including:

  • Payment for medical interpretation should be directly between the payer who is not the health care professional and the provider of interpreter services.
  • A mechanism for national funding for medical interpretation should be established.
  • Collaboration with state efforts to increase the funds available for limited English proficiency services, thus increasing the availability of matching Medicaid funds should be established.
  • Medical providers do not have to certify the quality of medical interpreters.
  • Use of a medical interpreter should be an option that is offered to the patient.
  • Support for expanded identification of available medical interpretation resources for the provider and patient community, with an emphasis on identifying local and regional resources, should be established.