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A new bill aims to ensure N.H.health care facilities provide language access via telemedicine

Telehealth video call
NHPR

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.

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