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LARC Home Page Federal and State laws prohibit national origin discrimination of LEP individuals when they are provided health care services.  New York also has specific protections for LEP individuals that require language interpreters in hospital settings.

There are many resources below describing the obligations of health care facilities and the importance of language services and assuring cultural competency when providing health services. Click Here

Federal Health Protections                                                    

In January 1998, the Department of Health of Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a memorandum entitled "Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination, Persons with Limited-English Proficiency" to ensure consistent application of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to health and social services programs funded by HHS.

"The import of the memorandum is that it addresses language assistance that may be required for effective communication between health and social service providers and persons of Limited English Proficiency (LEP)." A copy of the memorandum is available here.

HHS federal regulations, 45 CFR 80.3(b)(2), also requires all recipients of federal financial assistance from HHS to provide meaningful access to LEP persons. Federal financial assistance includes grants, training, use of equipment, donations of surplus property, and other assistance. Recipients of HHS assistance may include, for example:

  • Hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and managed care organizations.
  • Universities and other entities with health or social service research programs.
  • State, county, and local health agencies.
  • State Medicaid agencies.
  • State, county and local welfare agencies.
  • Programs for families, youth, and children.
  • Head Start programs.
  • Public and private contractors, subcontractors and vendors.
  • Physicians and other providers who receive Federal financial assistance

The 2000 HHS LEP Guidance describes the obligations of programs that receive Federal financial assistance to provide language assistance services to LEP individuals. HHS issued their most recent LEP Guidance in 2003.  The Guidance discusses the use of interpreters, and determining qualified interpreters in health care settings. A copy of the HHS LEP Guidance is available here and the resources below.

Several interpreter guides for hospitals and patients are also provided below. HHS also has a procedure for individuals to submit a discrimination complaint. The HHS discrimination complaint forms are provided in the resources below.

New York State Department of Health Requirements             4

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) has implemented a new regulation in September 2006 that sets standards for hospitals' communication with limited-English-proficient individuals (LEP). A memo on the comparison of the new and old regulation can be found here and in the resources below.

This regulation makes it clear that every limited-English-proficient patient has a right to meaningful access to a hospital's services; requires every hospital to develop a language assistance program and designate a language assistance coordinator; requires hospitals to identify and document each patient's language of preference and the acceptance or refusal of language assistance services; sets clear limits on the use of friends, strangers, and family members as interpreters, including age restrictions; and so forth. A copy of the the new regulation can be found here and in the resources below

Federal Resources                                                                            

State Resources                                                                                 

Other Resources                                                                                 

Obligation to Provide Language Services in Health Care Settings

Language Services and Cultural Competency

Other LEP Health Studies and Reports

Frequently Asked Questions
Federal LEP
Title VI
Executive Order 13166
DOJ LEP Guidance
Federal Agency Guidance
LEP Topics
Court Access
Domestic Violence
Employment /Unemployment
Food Stamp Program
Health Care Services
Law Enforcement
Legal Services and Attorneys
Public Housing
Social Security
LEP Statistics
Census Data
Other Group Data
Resources and Training
Language Access Guides
Language Access Training
Model LEP Plans
New York Resources

Last Updated: March 17, 2009 ● Empire Justice Center © 2009