Press Release

New Office of Language Access Gets the Green Light from the Senate Health Committee

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today, Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) announced that his Senate Bill (SB) 1078 passed out of the Senate Health Committee with a unanimous 11-0 vote. The bill creates a new Office of Language Access to ensure that Californians with limited English proficiency (LEP) have meaningful access to the myriad of healthcare related programs provided by the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS), including the vast MediCal network that provides medical coverage to a third of the state’s population.

The Office of Language Access would be embedded within CalHHS and tasked with building multilingual capacity throughout the agency’s 17 departments and offices responsible for management of California’s social services, public health, emergency medical services, long term care programs, and state hospital system.

“Failure to provide access to in-language health services has adverse and potentially fatal outcomes for immigrant communities,” said Senator Dave Min, Vice Chair of the AAPI Legislative Caucus. “Longer hospital stays, readmissions, post-discharge care, and confusion over prescribed medication are among the many avoidable and devastating consequences of a state health system that is unable to fully serve patients with limited English proficiency. We must do better. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate Health Committee for recognizing the importance of the proposed Office of Language Access and the equity it will bring to the millions of Californians who rely on state healthcare.”

The implementation of state and federal language access laws has long been a challenge for departments without the staff, resources, or technical expertise to ensure ongoing compliance. For example, in 2023 CalHHS approved a Language Access Policy but has not designated an office within the agency to coordinate or provide accountability across various programs to LEP individuals. The proposed Office of Language Access would fill this gap through the creation of Language Access Plans (LAPs) within each CalHHS department and serve as the central coordinator for building language services infrastructure.

Nearly 6.4 Californians speak more than 200 languages and comprise the largest population of people with limited English proficiency in the United States.

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