The National Association of Community Health Centers released a report on June 16th concerning the lack of reimbursement for language services provided at community health centers (CHCs). The report surveyed a sample of member CHCs to assess challenges in serving patients with limited English proficiency (LEP).
Although 84% of CHCs surveyed said they provided services to LEP patients on a daily basis, only 5% were reimbursed for providing them. The CHCs also reported providing language services to nearly one-third of their clients.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for reimbursing CHCs, has indicated that language services be covered optionally. As a result, only 12 states and the District of Columbia have elected to cover such services. The report indicated that lack of reimbursement was the primary barrier in providing such necessary services.
CHCs are a critical component of the safety net for low-income and uninsured individuals and continue to be a vital source of primary care, especially for Latinas and their reproductive health. NLIRH supports increased funding for Medicaid and other relevant federal and state programs so linguistically and culturally appropriate care can be provided to those who need it. Without adequate federal reimbursement, CHCs may not be able to continue providing a service that is essential for many patients to navigate what can be a daunting and complex health care system.