California Finally Starts Its USD 3 Million Medical Interpretation Study

Two years after California lawmakers passed a bill requiring the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to conduct a study that would assess the current state of medical interpretation in California, the project is finally getting off the ground. The project had been slow to get started, which drew criticism in the local press.

In 2016, California’s lawmakers legislated the funding for the study of the State’s program to provide medical interpretation services for LEP patients covered by the overarching California Medical Assistance Program (or Medi-Cal), which covers healthcare for low-income families and individuals.

On August 6, 2018, a request for proposal was issued by the DHCS, seeking projects that would identify current federal and state requirements for medical interpretation services across the state.

The DCHS said that it intends to make a single contract award and that it will be accepting proposals for the project until September 20, 2018.

The project covers education, training and licensure requirements for medical interpretation providers, as well as analysis of other medicaid programs. The DCHS said project proponents may also include recommendations for pilot projects that would evaluate mechanisms to improve medical interpretation services.

From this study, the DHCS expects to be able to come up with recommendations and a strategy for improving the provision of medical interpretation services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries with limited English proficiency (LEP).

The study’s scope of work contains seven objectives including:

  • Assessing the education, licensure, and training requirements for Medical Interpretation Services providers
  • Assessing the provision of Medical Interpretation Services by other states’ Medicaid programs.
  • Assessing the current cost, funding mechanisms, and billing mechanisms used for the provision of Medical Interpretation Services
  • Assessing the barriers to identifying the need for, provision of, and utilization of Medical Interpretation Services
  • Making recommendations on strategies that may be established regarding the provision of Medical Interpretation Services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries

The California State Legislature has allowed the DHCS to “expend up to USD 3m” for “the support of activities related to a medical interpreters pilot project, study, or both.”

The law – Assembly Bill No. 365 – also provides that the “department may seek any available federal funding for support of activities relating to medical interpretation services.”

While the measure is a welcome boost to medical interpretation in California, which has been hit with a slew of setbacks and labor problems in the past few years, the project hit a snag last year when the hiring of a project lead was delayed.

With the release of the RFP, it looks like the state agency has gotten its act together and the project is finally beginning to take shape.

The department first published the RFP in April 2018 and had solicited input from stakeholders in June 2018.

To stay up-to-date on global tenders, subscribe to Slator’s RFP Center and receive daily tender alerts.

For more insights on telephonic and remote interpretation, register now for SlatorCon San Francisco on September 13, where CyraCom CEO Jeremy Woan will speak.