BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 389 (Chau) - Hospitals:  language assistance services
          
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          |Version: June 19, 2015          |Policy Vote: HEALTH 9 - 0       |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: Yes                    |
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          |Hearing Date: June 29, 2015     |Consultant: Brendan McCarthy    |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.



          Bill  
          Summary:  AB 389 would require hospitals to post their language  
          assistance policies on their websites. The bill would also  
          require both the Department of Public Health and the Office of  
          Statewide Health Planning and Development to post each  
          hospital's language assistance policy on their respective  
          websites.


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  
           One-time costs of $270,000 in the first year and $200,000 in  
            the second year to develop policies and regulations and create  
            an information system by the Office of Statewide Health  
            Planning and Development (California Health Data and Planning  
            Fund). According to the Office, it would need to develop an  
            automated system to allow each licensed hospital to upload its  
            language assistance policy, rather than manually  posting up  
            to 300 policies each year.








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           Ongoing costs of about $125,000 per year to ensure hospitals  
            have access to the new information technology system, ensure  
            that all hospitals have uploaded current language assistance  
            policies, and respond to questions and complaints from the  
            public by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and  
            Development (California Health Data and Planning Fund).

           Potential one-time costs up to $150,000 to develop regulations  
            by the Department of Public Health, if another technology  
            arises that replaces internet websites (Licensing and  
            Certification Program Fund). The bill requires the Department  
            of Public Health, by regulation, to direct hospitals to post  
            their language assistance policies using any future technology  
            that replaces internet websites.

           Minor costs for the Department of Public Health to post  
            hospital language assistance policies on its website  
            (Licensing and Certification Program Fund).


          Background:  Under current law, the Department of Public Health licenses  
          general acute care hospitals and other health facilities. The  
          Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, amongst  
          other duties, collects and makes available to the public data on  
          hospital finances and operations.
          Current law requires hospitals to adopt language assistance  
          policies to assist limited English speaking patients and  
          patients with hearing impairments. Language assistance policies  
          must provide, to the extent possible, interpretation services to  
          patients. Hospitals are required to transmit their language  
          assistance policies to the Department of Public Health and to  
          post them in conspicuous locations within the facility.




          Proposed Law:  
            AB 389 would require hospitals to post their language  
          assistance policies on their websites. The bill would also  
          require both the Department of Public Health and the Office of  
          Statewide Health Planning and Development to post each  
          hospital's language assistance policy on their respective  
          websites.
          Specific provisions of the bill would:








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           Require hospitals to make their language assistance policies  
            available on their internet websites (beginning July 1, 2016  
            and updated in January each year);
           Require the policies to be written in English and up to five  
            languages most commonly spoken in a hospital's service area;
           If a subsequent technology replaces internet websites, the  
            bill would require the Department of Public Health, by  
            regulation, to direct hospitals to use the subsequent  
            technology to post language assistance policies;
           Require hospitals to provide their language assistance  
            policies to the Department of Public Health (beginning on July  
            1, 2016 and each January thereafter), including information on  
            the hospital's efforts to ensure communication with patients;
           Require the Department to post all hospital language  
            assistance policies on its website or a subsequent technology  
            that replaces internet websites;
           Require hospitals to provide their language assistance  
            policies to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and  
            Development (beginning on July 1, 2016 and each January  
            thereafter);
           Require the Office to post all hospital language assistance  
            policies on its website or a subsequent technology that  
            replaces internet websites.


          Related  
          Legislation:  AB 635 (Atkins) would establish a Medi-Cal  
          interpretation program to provide and reimburse for certified  
          medical interpretations services. That bill will be heard in  
          this committee.


          Staff  
          Comments:  The requirement in the bill for two state agencies to  
          post the same information is redundant. Because Department of  
          Public Health licenses hospitals and investigates complaints  
          against hospitals, it would be most appropriate for the  
          Department of Public Health to host this consumer protection  
          information.
          The only costs that may be incurred by a local agency relate to  
          crimes and infractions. Under the California Constitution, such  
          costs are not reimbursable by the state.








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