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Issue Briefs

The CMS Office of Minority Health Issue Briefs offer insight and examination into a variety of health and health disparity topics. The briefs are a concise summary of a particular issue and examine policies that impact the quality of and access to health care for minority and disadvantaged populations. Issue Briefs evaluate CMS programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, to include recommendations and suggestions relating to the issue at hand.

How Healthcare Providers Meet Patient Language Needs: Highlights of a Medscape Provider Survey  [PDF, 1.1MB]
Limited English proficiency can contribute to misunderstandings between patients and providers, obstacles to high quality of care, and negative clinical outcomes. This report summarizes the results of an online Medscape survey fielded in August 2013 that included questions about languages spoken by patients, strategies used to identify patient needs, and the use of language services to meet these needs.

Increasing the Physical Accessibility of Health Care Facilities [PDF, 1.3 KB]
One of the most prominent challenges for people with physical disabilities is overcoming the barriers to entering and navigating health care facilities. This brief provides an overview of why physical accessibility is important for people with disabilities, discusses laws enacted to promote accessibility, provides examples of federal and state-level efforts to increase accessibility, and offers suggestions for improving physical accessibility of health care facilities on a broader scale.

Understanding Communication and Language Needs of Medicare Beneficiaries [PDF, 2.7MB]
Communication and language barriers are associated with decreased quality of care and poor clinical outcomes, longer hospital stays, and higher rates of hospital readmissions. The brief presents data that can be used by providers, provider organizations, and health care stakeholders to better understand communication and language assistance needs of Medicare beneficiaries throughout the United States.

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