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New law expands language access at the doctor’s office


From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD — A new law that promotes language access at doctors’ offices takes effect the first of next year.

Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez, D-Chicago, sponsored legislation in the Senate that will help Medicaid patients receive language assistance when they visit the doctor.

“In a state diverse as Illinois, it is imperative that our health-care system be prepared to provide language access services to patients,” Martinez said. “My plan will promote better communication between health care providers and patients, which is crucial for improving health care outcomes.”

All health-care facilities that see Medicaid patients in managed care plans will now be required to develop and implement language services.

Under the new law, patients must be notified of how they can access language assistance. Qualified interpreters must be available and appropriate documents must be transcribed.

Health-care facilities will also be required to train their staff on cultural awareness.

Martinez worked on her proposal with the Latino Policy Commission and the Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans.

The new law was Senate Bill 1253.

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