Doctors in hospital hallway where LEP patients are seen

Speaking of Your Health: Communication and The Affordable Care Act

Doctors in hospital hallway where non-English speaking patients seen

How Language Access Amplifies the Efficacy of Other ACA Related Programs

Whatever happens with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it’s time for us to take a look at the law and all the programs tied to it, determine what worked, and figure out how the successful features of the law can be further integrated into healthcare systems.

In thinking about the ACA, what we’ve noticed in particular is how the benefits of one aspect of the law cascade out to others. In particular, working in the language industry, we see how the benefits of effective communication affect the efficacy of so many ACA programs.

Access to Interpreters and Translators

Section 1557 of the ACA helps guarantee access to professional interpreters and translators for limited English proficient (LEP) patients. This guideline standardizes the qualifications an interpreter must meet and regulates when interpretation is required.

And when you consider the importance of communication in providing effective healthcare, you can begin to see how language services directly affect other ACA-related programs that rely on successful communication.

Encouraging Communication with Patients

For example, there’s a direct link between Section 1557 and other ACA programs like the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).

Both these programs measure and encourage healthcare providers to talk to their patients, listen to them, and provide detailed information in writing to aid post-discharge recovery. Greater communication is key to reducing preventable hospital readmissions and contributing to positive patient experiences.

Without comprehensive language access programs, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals cannot connect and communicate with LEP patients. That’s why the regulations set by Section 1557 affect the success of so many other health initiatives.

Planning for the Future

The need for professional interpreters and translators is not going away, and neither is the right LEPs have to language access as guaranteed by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

If the ACA is repealed, healthcare professionals, administrators, and language access coordinators need to think about how language access influences the success of other healthcare programs significant to providing quality care, lowering healthcare costs, and promoting affirmative patient experiences.

Download CLI’s guide to Section 1557 to learn more about the regulation and how it affects language access in healthcare.