Hearings Seek Comment on Medical Interpreter Regulations
The Department of Managed Health Care will finalize regulations mandating that HMOs provide language assistance services to their members by May after hearing public comment on Tuesday and Thursday, the San Jose Mercury News reports. A law (SB 853) was enacted in 2003 requiring HMOs to provide language interpreters to patients who need them.
Lynne Randolph, deputy director of communications for DMHC, said the department has been "working with the health care interpreters association to expand not only the availability of interpreters but also to set standards" for medical interpreters.
In the meantime, health insurers must survey their patients to assess language needs and develop plans to accommodate them. The law stipulates that interpreters must be provided at no cost for the two most common non-English languages within each plan.
HMOs will have to comply with the regulations by October 2007 (Goldston, San Jose Mercury News, 2/16).