Alvaro DeCola


This Note will argue that there are strong public policy, and legal and equity considerations for Congress to enact a federal statute to address the inadequacies of the current policies and regulations pertaining to language access to health care. The issue has become a significant one throughout the United States, given the influx of LEP (Limited English Proficiency) Americans navigating the health care system. Part II of this writing discusses the existing federal laws dealing with language access and the hurdles faced by LEP individuals in bringing legal action, because of existing case law on the subject. Part II also describes other federal statutes considering language access and how the same rationales can be applied to a statute for the provision of certified interpreters in the health care context. Part III of this Note argues that there is a lack of minimum standards of competency required from language providers that makes the quality of language services inconsistent, and often deficient, throughout the nation. Consequently, the health outcomes of LEP patients are jeopardized and the exposure to civil liability on the part of physicians and health providers is increased. Part III also argues that current practices with respect to policy, legal, and financial considerations justify the enactment of a federal statute dealing with the certification of health care interpreters. The Note provides some policy issues that may be considered in the enactment of a statute. Part IV concludes that the enactment of a federal health care interpreter statute will ensure meaningful access to health care for LEP patients and will help health care providers comply with the intent of current laws.