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SB-165 Medical interpretation services.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 09/30/2019 09:00 PM
SB165:v96#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 165
CHAPTER 365

An act to amend Sections 14146 and 14146.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to Medi-Cal.

[ Approved by Governor  September 27, 2019. Filed with Secretary of State  September 27, 2019. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 165, Atkins. Medical interpretation services.
Existing law provides for the Medi-Cal program, which is administered by the State Department of Health Care Services, under which qualified low-income individuals receive health care services. The Medi-Cal program is, in part, governed and funded by federal Medicaid program provisions. Existing law, until July 1, 2020, among other things, requires the department to work with stakeholders to conduct a study to identify current requirements for medical interpretation services and make recommendations on strategies that may be employed regarding the provision of medical interpretation services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are limited English proficient (LEP). Existing law requires that the department work with stakeholders to establish a pilot project based on the recommendations of the study, as specified.
This bill would instead require the department to establish a pilot project concurrent with the study, as specified. The bill would, among other things, require that the pilot project be designed to evaluate certain factors, including whether disparities in care are reduced, with respect to LEP Medi-Cal beneficiaries compared with Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are proficient in English. The bill would require the department to expend up to $5,000,000 for the pilot project pursuant to an appropriation made in the Budget Act of 2019.
The bill would extend the operation of these provisions to July 1, 2024.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 14146 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

14146.
 (a) (1) The department shall work with identified stakeholders to conduct a study to identify current requirements for medical interpretation services as well as education, training, and licensure requirements, analyze other state Medicaid programs, and make recommendations on strategies that may be employed regarding the provision of medical interpretation services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are limited English proficient (LEP), in compliance with applicable state and federal requirements.
(2) The study also shall assess and make recommendations based on pilot projects, studies, and available data that would further the objectives of this article, including funding for those activities and the allowable use of federal funding.
(b) (1) The department shall work with identified stakeholders to establish a pilot project concurrent with the study.
(2) A pilot project shall include up to four separate sites to evaluate the provision of medical interpretation services for LEP Medi-Cal beneficiaries enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care plans and in fee-for-service Medi-Cal. In identifying sites, the department shall take into account the need for those services, the availability of a pool of medical interpreters that meet the language needs of the Medi-Cal population for use by providers and managed care plans, and the studies and available data identified under paragraph (2) of subdivision (a).
(c) (1) The department may use or contract with an external vendor, vendors, or other contracted subject matter experts to implement the activities described in this section, including the pilot project. However, the vendor for the study shall not be used for the pilot project. The department shall consult with identified stakeholders regarding the draft initial scope of work that shall be used to seek and evaluate proposals pursuant to this section.
(2) At a minimum, the pilot project shall be designed to evaluate all of the following:
(A) Whether Medi-Cal beneficiary satisfaction is greater than for those beneficiaries without access to in-person medical interpretation.
(B) Whether the satisfaction of physicians and surgeons, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other health professionals acting within their scope of practice increases.
(C) Whether noncompliance with treatment regimens or avoidable medical errors are reduced.
(D) Whether disparities in care are reduced, with respect to LEP Medi-Cal beneficiaries compared with Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are proficient in English.
(E) Whether the Medi-Cal managed care plans identify improvements in quality of care.
(F) The utilization of medical interpreters by providers and Medi-Cal managed care plans.
(d) (1) Each year, commencing in 2017, during the annual state budget process, the department shall provide an update to the budget committees of the Legislature on the implementation of this article.
(2) Any report submitted under this subdivision shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(e) (1) For activities under this section, the department may expend up to three million dollars ($3,000,000) under Provision 14 of Item 4260-101-0001 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2016 (Chapter 23 of the Statutes of 2016) for the support of activities related to a medical interpreters pilot project, study, or both. In addition, the department shall expend up to five million dollars ($5,000,000) for the pilot project under Provision 15 of Item 4260-101-0001 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2019 (Chapter 23 of the Statutes of 2019), which shall be available for expenditure until June 30, 2024.
(2) The department may seek any available federal funding for support of activities relating to medical interpretation services as provided under this section.
(3) Expenditure or encumbrance of the funds described in this subdivision is contingent upon approval by the Department of Finance.

SEC. 2.

 Section 14146.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

14146.5.
 This article shall become inoperative on July 1, 2024, and, as of January 1, 2025, is repealed.