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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: CMS Should Develop an Agencywide Policy for Translating Medicare Documents into Languages Other Than English
Kathleen M. King (au); William B. Shear (au)
Fed. depts. and agencies, including Health and Human Services (HHS), to examine the services they provide and prepare a plan identifying the steps they will take to provide beneficiaries with limited English proficiency (LEP) with meaningful access to the agencies’ programs and activities. Accordingly, HHS developed an LEP strategic plan that identified the steps the dept. and its agencies, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), intended to take to help ensure timely access to language assistance services by eligible LEP beneficiaries to their programs and activities. For ex., the plan includes elements related to providing oral language assistance and written translations of vital program documents in languages other than English where there are significant numbers of LEP beneficiaries. The plan also indicates that HHS agencies will strive to implement written policies and procedures related to plan elements, including written translations of program documents. As immigration patterns have changed and more languages are spoken in the U.S., some providers have reported that the cost burden for providing language services to LEP beneficiaries — such as translating documents into additional languages and providing interpreters — has increased as well. While recognizing that health care providers receiving fed. financial assistance have certain responsibilities under Title VI and implementing regulations, some organizations representing them and organizations interested in LEP issues have requested CMS to do more to ease the burden providers face in communicating with beneficiaries with LEP, such as translating Medicare documents into additional languages. This report review CMS’s language access policies, efforts to translate Medicare documents, and the challenges health care providers face in communicating with LEP beneficiaries. Includes recommendations. Illus.
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