(Washington, DC) The District of Columbia Department of Health, Medical Assistance Administration, in partnership with numerous community-based and advocacy organizations has unveiled a line of health education and promotion materials designed to facilitate access to health care services for Medicaid recipients with limited English proficiency (LEP). The project is a unique and innovative approach to complying with federal and local mandates that require the provision of language services including oral interpretation and written translation services for District residents.
"Providing greater access to health care for persons with LEP is an important step in reducing health disparities in the District of Columbia, said Gregg A. Pane, MD, Director of the Department of Health.
The literature provides Medicaid recipients with information regarding their right to an interpreter in health care surroundings--free of charge-- as well as their right to have important letters and notices translated into their primary language. In addition, recipients are provided with I Speak cards that identify their language needs. The cards, which are similar in size to an insurance card and can be placed in a wallet, also feature hotline numbers to call if there are problems accessing services. The entire line of literature is provided in the District's five most prevalent languages, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Amahric.
Its this type of a public and private collaboration that truly benefits the quality of life for our constituents, said Robert Maruca, Senior Deputy Director of MAA. The material was mailed to each of the Districts 140,000 Medicaid recipients and will be placed in more than 5,000 health care provider offices, community clinics, hospitals and other District agencies that serve Medicaid recipients.
According to data compiled by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly known as the INS), the Washington DC metropolitan area ranked as the fifth most common destination for immigrants arriving in the US. In fact, the foreign-born population of the District grew from 10 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2000. US Census Bureau figures also document a growing number of the Districts immigrant population that is classified as LEP. The Census 2000 data states that almost 20,000 District residents are LEP. In general, Latinos are the most linguistically disadvantaged, with more than 33 percent of all Latinos ages 5 and over being LEP.
For more information regarding this event, please contact the Department of Health at (202) 671-5000.