Language Access in Health Care Under a Trump Presidency

January 27, 2017

Part 2: Interpreting (Spoken Word) Requirements for Health Care Organizations

// By Jill Mead //

Jill MeadAre you wondering about President Donald Trump’s current plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act? Most people working in the field want to know the timeframe and what this will mean when it comes to interpreting (spoken word) requirements for health care entities. This second half of a two-part series explores these pressing issues and provides important clarifications for readers, so they will know what to expect in the coming months.

In last month’s article, we discussed the continued relevancy of the new Section 1557 regulations implementing the Nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act under the Trump administration. We also took a look at the requirements to translate vital medical documents and to include specific notices and taglines regarding language access services for Limited English Proficient (“LEP”) patients and caregivers. Now, it’s important to explore the latest developments to the original “repeal and replace” plan for the ACA, which could have an impact on interpreting (spoken word) requirements for health care entities.

Throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump indicated that “repealing and replacing” the ACA would be a top priority under his administration, if elected. But since his election we have seen a small modification from “repeal and replace” to “repeal and delay.” Beginning December 1, 2016, pundits and news outlets began reporting on a new Republican strategy to repeal the ACA in the early part of 2017, but leave it in place (perhaps for up to three years!) while a new (and, allegedly, better) plan is crafted while allowing the millions of Americans insured under the ACA to keep their insurance.  Should the “repeal and delay” plan come to fruition, then the language access provisions of the Section 1557 regulations will remain in effect for up to the next three years. During that time, advocates of language access rights and others vested in the fight against discrimination in health care will undoubtedly lobby for the inclusion of some or all of the same nondiscrimination protections in what ultimately becomes the replacement act.

But even if the ACA had been totally repealed on day one of the Trump administration, the vast majority of the language access provisions in the Section 1557 regulations would remain relevant and part of legal compliance for nearly every health care facility in the U.S.


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