§ 1300.67.04. Language Assistance Programs.
28 CA ADC § 1300.67.04BARCLAYS OFFICIAL CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS
28 CCR § 1300.67.04
§ 1300.67.04. Language Assistance Programs.
(1) Every health care service plan, including specialized health care service plans (plans), shall comply with the requirements of this section. The requirements of this section shall not apply to plan contracts for the provision of services to Medi-Cal enrollees or to contracts between plans and the federal government for the provision of services to Medicare enrollees.
(2) If a plan has both Medi-Cal and non-Medi-Cal lines of business, then the plan will be in compliance with the requirements of this section as to its non-Medi-Cal lines of business if:
(A) The Medi-Cal standards for providing language assistance services, including standards for timeliness and proficiency of interpreters, are equivalent to or exceed the standards set forth in Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section;
(B) The plan applies the Medi-Cal standards for language assistance programs to the plan's non-Medi-Cal lines of business; and
(C) The Department of Managed Health Care (Department) determines, as described in Section 1367.04(h)(3) of the Act, that the plan is in compliance with the Medi-Cal standards.
(3) A plan that seeks the Department's determination of compliance as provided in subsection (a)(2) shall request such determination as part of its filing pursuant to subsection (e)(2) and provide documentation sufficient to support and verify the request to the Department's satisfaction. The Department's determination pursuant to subsection (a)(2) shall apply only to the enrollees in a plan's non-Medi-Cal lines of business to which the plan actually applies the plan's Medi-Cal program standards.
(1) Demographic profile means, at a minimum, identification of an enrollee's preferred spoken and written language, race and ethnicity.
(2) Interpretation: the act of listening to something spoken or reading something written in one language (source language) and orally expressing it accurately and with appropriate cultural relevance into another language (target language).
(3) Limited English Proficient or LEP Enrollee: an enrollee who has an inability or a limited ability to speak, read, write, or understand the English language at a level that permits that individual to interact effectively with health care providers or plan employees.
(4) Point of Contact: an instance in which an enrollee accesses the services covered under the plan contract, including administrative and clinical services, and telephonic and in-person contacts.
(5) Threshold Language(s): the language(s) identified by a plan pursuant to Section 1367.04(b)(1)(A) of the Act.
(6) Translation: replacement of a written text from one language (source language) with an equivalent written text in another language (target language).
(7) Vital Documents: the following documents, when produced by the plan (plan-produced documents) including when the production or distribution is delegated by a plan to a contracting health care service provider or administrative services provider:
(B) Consent forms, including any form by which an enrollee authorizes or consents to any action by the plan;
(C) Letters containing important information regarding eligibility and participation criteria;
(D) Notices pertaining to the denial, reduction, modification, or termination of services and benefits, and the right to file a grievance or appeal;
(E) Notices advising LEP enrollees of the availability of free language assistance and other outreach materials that are provided to enrollees;
(F) A plan's explanation of benefits or similar claim processing information that is sent to an enrollee if the document requires a response from the enrollee; and
(G) Subject to subsection (c)(2)(F)(ii), the enrollee disclosures required by Section 1363(a)(1), (2) and (4) of the Act.
(c) Language Assistance Program Requirements.
Every plan shall develop and implement a language assistance program, which shall comply with the requirements and standards established by Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section. The language assistance program shall be documented in written policies and procedures, and shall address, at a minimum, the following four elements: standards for enrollee assessment; standards for providing language assistance services; standards for staff training; and standards for compliance monitoring.
(1) Enrollee Assessment. Every health care service plan and specialized health care service plan shall assess its enrollee population to develop a demographic profile and to survey the linguistic needs of individual enrollees. In assessing its enrollee population each plan shall, at a minimum:
(A) Develop a demographic profile of the plan's enrollee population for the purposes of calculating threshold languages and reporting to the Department pursuant to Section 1367.07 of the Act. All plans shall apply statistically valid methods for population analysis in developing the demographic profile and plans may utilize a variety of methods for collecting demographic data for this purpose, including census data, client utilization data from third parties, data from community agencies and third party enrollment processes;
(B) Survey its enrollees in a manner designed to identify the linguistic needs of each of the plan's enrollees, and record the information provided by a responding enrollee in the enrollee's file. Plans may utilize existing processes and methods to distribute the linguistic needs survey, including but not limited to, existing enrollment and renewal processes, subscriber newsletters, mailings and other communication processes. A plan may demonstrate compliance with the survey requirement by distributing to all subscribers, including all individual subscribers under group contracts, a disclosure explaining, in English and in the plan's threshold languages, the availability of free language assistance services and how to inform the plan and relevant providers regarding the preferred spoken and written languages of the subscriber and other enrollees under the subscriber contract; and
(C) Collect, summarize and document enrollee demographic profile data in a manner that enables the plan to maintain confidentiality of personal information and to disclose the information to the Department on request for regulatory purposes and to contracting providers on request for lawful purposes, including language assistance purposes and health care quality improvement purposes. This section is not intended to limit or expand existing law regarding confidentiality of medical records.
(2) Providing Language Assistance Services. Every plan shall develop language assistance program policies and procedures, which shall describe, at a minimum, the information outlined below.
(A) All points of contact where the need for language assistance may be reasonably anticipated.
(B) The types of resources needed to provide effective language assistance to the plan's enrollees.
(C) The plan's processes for informing enrollees of the availability of language assistance services at no charge to enrollees, and how to access language assistance services. At a minimum, these processes shall include the following:
(i) Processes to promote effective identification of LEP enrollee language assistance needs at points of contact, to ensure that LEP enrollees are informed at points of contact that interpretation services are available at no cost to the LEP enrollee, and to facilitate individual enrollee access to interpretation services at points of contact.
(ii) Processes for including the notice required by Section 1367.04(b)(1)(B)(v) with all vital documents, all enrollment materials and all correspondence, if any, from the plan confirming a new or renewed enrollment. If documents are distributed in an LEP enrollee's preferred written language the notice need not be included.
(iii) Processes for including statements, in English and in threshold languages, about the availability of free language assistance services and how to access them, in or with brochures, newsletters, outreach and marketing materials and other materials that are routinely disseminated to the plan's enrollees.
(D) Processes to ensure the plan's language assistance program conforms with the requirements of section 1300.68(b)(3) and (7) of these regulations, including standards to ensure that LEP enrollees receive information regarding their rights to file a grievance and seek an independent medical review in threshold languages and through oral interpretation.
(i) All plans shall ensure that grievance forms and procedures in threshold languages are made readily available to enrollees and to contracting providers for distribution to enrollees upon request.
(ii) All plans shall inform contracting providers that informational notices explaining how enrollees may contact their plan, file a complaint with their plan, obtain assistance from the Department and seek an independent medical review are available in non-English languages through the Department's web site. The notice and translations can be obtained online at www.hmohelp.ca.gov for downloading and printing. In addition, hard copies may be requested by submitting a written request to: Department of Managed Health Care, Attention: HMO Help Notices, 980 9th Street, Suite 500, Sacramento, CA 95814.
(E) Processes to ensure that contracting providers are informed regarding the plan's standards and mechanisms for providing language assistance services at no charge to enrollees, and to ensure that LEP language needs information collected by the plan is made available to contracting providers.
(F) Processes and standards for providing translation services, including, but not limited to:
(i) A list of the threshold languages identified by the plan;
(ii) A list of the types of standardized and enrollee-specific vital documents that must be translated and the applicable standards for making translated vital documents available to subscribers and enrollees. Plans need not translate subscriber contracts, evidences of coverage and other large disclosure forms and enrollee handbooks in their entirety, but may excerpt from large documents the disclosures specified at subsection (b)(7)(G) for translation in a format that permits cost-effective and timely production and distribution, so long as there is no loss of accuracy or meaning by doing so. A plan may demonstrate compliance regarding translation of the disclosures specified at subsection (b)(7)(G) if the plan provides a standardized matrix that lists the major categories of health care services covered under the plan's subscriber contracts, together with the corresponding copayments and coinsurance, and exclusions and limitations, and disclosing any applicable deductibles and lifetime maximums, using the same sequence as the uniform matrix described at Section 1363(b)(1) of the Act.
(iii) A description of how the plan will provide or arrange for the provision of translation of vital documents at no charge to enrollees in accordance with the requirements of Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section. This subsection is not intended to prohibit or discourage a plan from providing translation of vital documents into a greater number of languages than the threshold languages;
(iv) A requirement that non-English translations of vital documents must meet the same standards required for English language versions of those documents; and
(v) A requirement that, with respect to vital documents that are not standardized, but which contain enrollee-specific information, a plan shall provide the English version together with the Department-approved written notice of the availability of interpretation and translation services and, if a translation is requested, the plan shall provide the requested translation in accordance with the requirements of Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section.
(G) Processes and standards for providing individual enrollee access to interpretation services at points of contact at no charge, including, but not limited to:
(i) A list of the non-English languages likely to be encountered among the plan's enrollees.
(ii) A requirement that the plan shall provide LEP enrollees with interpretation services for information contained in plan-produced documents.
(iii) A requirement that qualified interpretation services be offered to LEP enrollees, at no cost to the enrollee, at all points of contact, including when an enrollee is accompanied by a family member or friend that can provide interpretation services. The offer of a qualified interpreter, and the enrollee's refusal if interpretation services are declined, shall be documented in the medical record or plan file, as applicable.
(iv) When an enrollee needs interpretation services at a point of contact that occurs in a hospital, facility or provider office subject to federal or state law that requires the hospital, facility or provider office to provide interpretation services, the plan is not relieved of its obligation to comply with the requirements of Section 1367.04 of the Act or this section. Full service plans shall have reasonable processes in place to ensure that LEP enrollees can obtain the plan's assistance in arranging for the provision of timely interpretation services at all points of contact as defined at subsection (b)(4). This subsection does not prohibit a plan from incorporating into its language assistance program a contracting hospital's language assistance program if: the hospital's language assistance program provides access to interpretation services consistent with the requirements of Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section; the plan monitors for deficiencies in delivery of interpretation services by the hospital; and the plan takes appropriate corrective action to address hospital deficiencies in delivery of interpretation services to the plan's enrollees. This subsection is not intended to limit or expand any existing state or federal law.
(v) A description of the arrangements the plan will make to provide or arrange for the provision of timely interpretation services at no charge to LEP enrollees at all points of contact where language assistance is needed. For purposes of this subsection “timely” means in a manner appropriate for the situation in which language assistance is needed. Interpretation services are not timely if delay results in the effective denial of the service, benefit, or right at issue. A plan's language assistance program shall specify quality assurance standards for timely delivery of language assistance services for emergency, urgent and routine health care services, and shall include standards for coordinating interpretation services with appointment scheduling.
(vi) The range of interpretation services that will be provided to enrollees as appropriate for the particular point of contact. The range of services may include, but is not limited to:
(aa) Arranging for the availability of bilingual plan or provider staff who are trained and competent in the skill of interpreting;
(bb) Hiring staff interpreters who are trained and competent in the skill of interpreting;
(cc) Contracting with an outside interpreter service for trained and competent interpreters;
(dd) Arranging formally for the services of voluntary community interpreters who are trained and competent in the skill of interpreting; and
(ee) Contracting for telephone, videoconferencing or other telecommunications supported language interpretation services.
(vii) As used in this section, “trained and competent in the skill of interpreting,” “qualified interpretation services” and “qualified interpreter” means that the interpreter meets the plan's proficiency standards established pursuant to subsection (c)(2)((H).
(H) The plan's policies and standards for ensuring the proficiency of the individuals providing translation and interpretation services. A plan may develop and apply appropriate criteria for ensuring the proficiency of translation and interpretation services or may adopt certification by an association acceptable to the Department at the time of certification. A plan's language assistance proficiency standards shall require:
(i) A documented and demonstrated proficiency in both English and the other language;
(ii) A fundamental knowledge in both languages of health care terminology and concepts relevant to health care delivery systems; and
(iii) Education and training in interpreting ethics, conduct and confidentiality. The Department will accept plan standards for interpreter ethics, conduct, and confidentiality that adopt and apply, in full, the standards promulgated by the California Healthcare Interpreters Association or the National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare.
(3) Staff training.
Every plan shall implement a system to provide adequate training regarding the plan's language assistance program to all plan staff who have routine contact with LEP enrollees. The training shall include instruction on:
(A) Knowledge of the plan's policies and procedures for language assistance;
(B) Working effectively with LEP enrollees;
(C) Working effectively with interpreters in person and through video, telephone and other media, as may be applicable; and
(D) Understanding the cultural diversity of the plan's enrollee population and sensitivity to cultural differences relevant to delivery of health care interpretation services.
(4) Compliance Monitoring.
(A) Every plan shall monitor its language assistance program, including delegated programs, and make modifications as necessary to ensure compliance with Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section.
(d) In reviewing a plan's proposed language assistance program, the Department will evaluate the totality of the plan's language assistance program to determine whether the program as a whole provides meaningful access for LEP enrollees, and may consider relevant operational and demographic factors, including but not limited to:
(1) Whether the plan is a full service plan or specialized health care service plan;
(2) The nature of the points of contact;
(3) The frequency with which particular languages are encountered;
(4) The type of provider network and methods of health care service delivery;
(5) The variations and character of a plan's service area;
(6) The availability of translation and interpretation services and professionals;
(7) The variations in cost of language assistance services and the impact on affordability of health care coverage; and
(8) A plan's implementation of best practices and utilization of existing and emerging technologies to increase access to language assistance services, such as video interpreting programs, language translation software, collaborating with other plans to share a pool of interpreters, and other methods and technologies.
(9) Specialized dental, vision, chiropractic, acupuncture and employee assistance program plans that demonstrate adequate availability and accessibility of qualified bilingual contracted providers and office staff to provide meaningful access to LEP enrollees, will be in compliance with the requirements of subsection (c)(2)(G)(iii) and (v). For the purposes of this subsection, specialized dental, vision, chiropractic, acupuncture and employee assistance program plans may demonstrate adequate availability and accessibility of competent and qualified bilingual providers and office staff if:
(A) The plan identifies within its provider directories those contracting providers who are themselves bilingual or who employ other bilingual providers and/or office staff, based on language capability disclosure forms signed by the bilingual providers and/or office staff, attesting to their fluency in languages other than English;
(B) The plan requires all contracting providers to provide quarterly updates regarding any changes in the language capabilities of currently employed providers and/or office staff by submitting new language capability disclosure forms, and the plan updates its provider directories accordingly, and consistent with Section 1367.26 of the Act; and
(C) The plan's quality assurance audits of contracting providers confirm and document the accuracy of provider language capability disclosure forms and attestations.
(1) Within one year of the effective date of this section, every plan shall complete the initial enrollee assessment required by Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section. Every plan shall update its assessment of enrollee language needs and enrollee demographic profile at least once every three years following the initial assessment.
(2) By July 1, 2008, every plan shall file, in accordance with Section 1352 of the Act, an amendment to its quality assurance program providing its written language assistance program policies and procedures, together with information and documents sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the requirements and standards of Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section. The filing shall include the plan's Section 1367.04(b)(1)(B)(v) notices. All materials filed with the Department that contain documents in non-English languages shall include the following minimum supporting documentation:
(i) The English version of each non-English document
(ii) An attestation by the translator or, if applicable, by an authorized officer of the organization providing translator services, outlining the qualifications of the translator making the translation and affirming that the non-English translation is an accurate translation of the English version.
(3) By January 1, 2009 every plan shall have established and implemented a language assistance program in compliance with the requirements of Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section.
(4) Every contract between a health care provider and a plan, including a specialized plan, that is issued, amended, delivered or renewed on or after January 1, 2009, shall require compliance with the plan's language assistance program standards developed pursuant to Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section.
(A) A plan shall retain financial responsibility for the implementation of the language assistance program required by Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section, except to the extent that delegated financial responsibility has been separately negotiated and specifically documented in written contracts. This subsection does not create an exception to Section 1367 of the Act and delegation shall not constitute a waiver of the plan's obligation to provide language assistance services required by Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section.
(B) Delegation to contracting providers of any part of the plan's obligation to provide language assistance services required by Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section constitutes a material change to a provider contract subject to the requirements of Section 1375.7 of the Act.
(f) The Department will periodically review plan compliance with the standards and requirements of Section 1367.04 of the Act and this section by methods that may include, but are not limited to, the medical survey process, reviews of consumer grievances and complaints to the Department's HMO Help Center, and provider complaints submitted to the Department's provider complaint line. The Department may also periodically request that plans submit information and data regarding enrollee language needs and demographic profile.
Note: Authority cited: Sections 1344 and 1367.04, Health and Safety Code. Reference: Sections 1259, 1342, 1363, 1365.5, 1367, 1367.04, 1367.07, 1368, 1368.01, 1370 and 1375.7, Health and Safety Code.
1. New section filed 1-24-2007; operative 2-23-2007 (Register 2007, No. 4).
This database is current through 10/1/21 Register 2021, No. 40
28 CCR § 1300.67.04, 28 CA ADC § 1300.67.04
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