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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Limited English Proficiency as a Critical Component of the Department of Health and Human Services Proposed Rule for Medically Underserved Areas


Medically underserved Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders (AA&NHOPIs) and other racial/ethnic minorities are often left out of the health center system (OMB, 1997; Papa Ola Lokahi, 2007). The Department of Human and Health Services is updating its Proposed Rule, which determines key population health indicators for medically underserved areas (MUA) and health professional shortage designations. This is important as revisions could increase Community Health Center (CHC) health care access for underserved AA&NHOPIs. We recommend that Limited English Proficiency be used as one of the measures in determining MUAs, as it is a scientifically valid and available measure that can identify where underserved AA&NHOPIs and other minorities who face an added language barrier can access needed health services.

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