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California Health Plans Now Required to Pay for Translators

California is the first state in the nation to require health plans to provide translation services for people in their primary language. State officials are trying to raise awareness of the new law. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

 

California's new law requires all health plans to pay for translators. Providers who don't have bilingual staff can use interpreters who are available by phone. The service is offered in more than 70 languages.

 

Cindy Ehnes directs California's Department of Managed Health Care . She says many doctors and patients are unfamiliar with the requirement.

 

"And that of course," Ehnes says, "Is something that we're trying very hard to remedy, because we so fundamentally believe in the right of people to have medical care delivered in a language that they can understand."

 

Ehnes says one out of three people in San Diego County speak a language other than English at home.

 

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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