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A new bill aims to ensure care facilities provide meaningful language access via telemedicine

Telehealth video call

Since 2020, when the pandemic started, many health entities have shifted to telemedicine as a convenient and safer way to treat patients. But limited-English speakers and deaf individuals who used in-person language assistance stopped receiving the language assistants they were entitled to receive in person. This shift left many patients unable to understand their doctors.

Rep. Manny Espitia, a Democrat from Nashua, is one of the sponsors of H.B. 1390, a bill that would address language translation services in telemedicine.

Espitia says that coming from a Latino family where he had to serve as a translator for his parents when he was a kid, he knows the burden of not having an official interpreter.

“We want to make sure that every medical professional has access to translation service so that a patient can get the right information,” he said.

Espitia says that the need for this service comes as New Hampshire diversifies, and the state’s population includes more non-English speakers. “We want to make sure translation services are provided,” he emphasized.

Espitia says the bill has a favorable recommendation from the committee. It will be in session again next week.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.

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