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Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act – The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, also known as the Patient Anti-dumping Act, requires hospitals that participate in the Medicare program that have emergency departments to treat all patients (including women in labor) in an emergency without regard to their ability to pay. Hospitals that fail to provide language assistance to persons of limited-English proficiency are potentially liable to Federal authorities for civil penalties, as well as relief to the extent deemed appropriate by a court.

The Hill-Burton Act – The Hill-Burton Act, enacted by Congress in 1946, encouraged the construction and modernization of public and nonprofit community hospitals and health centers. In return for receiving these funds, recipients agreed to comply with a "community service obligation," one of which is a general principle of non-discrimination in the delivery of services. The Office of Civil Rights has consistently interpreted this as an obligation to provide language assistance to those in need of such services.

Medicaid - Medicaid regulations require Medicaid providers and participating agencies, including long-term care facilities, to render culturally and linguistically appropriate services. The Health Care Financing Administration, the Federal agency that oversees Medicaid, requires that states communicate both orally and in writing "in a language understood by the beneficiary" and provide interpretation services at Medicaid hearings.

Medicare – Medicare addresses linguistic access in its reimbursement and outreach education policies. Medicare "providers are encouraged to make bilingual services available to patients wherever the services are necessary to adequately serve a multilingual population." Medicare reimburses hospitals for the cost of the provision of bilingual services to patients.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - "No person in the United States shall, on ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Last Modified: 07/08/2008 12:00:00 PM
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Office of Minority Health
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