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Report finds gaps in Medicaid information accessibility for non-English speakers

Two phones are connected to each other by a cord. The phone mouthpieces are visible toward the edges of the composition, and the cord is tangled between them.
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News brief

In Nevada, 30% of households primarily speak a non-English language, with Spanish being the most common, but the state’s Medicaid call center only offers menu options in English. Montana’s is English-only, too.

Those are two of the shortcomings highlighted in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s recent 50-state review of the accessibility to Medicaid program information for people with limited English proficiency and/or disabilities.

The report shows that state Medicaid websites, however, are more accommodating than call centers. In the Mountain West, for example, the Medicaid websites in Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming each offer translations in 100 languages. Colorado offers 28 languages other than English, while New Mexico provides five and Utah only one.

Samantha Artiga, who directs the Kaiser Family Foundation’s racial equity and health policy program and co-authored the report, says 16% of the nation’s Medicaid households have at least one individual who is not fluent in English.

“They could be at greater risk for losing coverage and potentially becoming uninsured or experiencing a gap in coverage just due to difficulties completing the renewal processes,” Artiga said.

She says it’s critical to improve accessibility as the COVID public health emergency ends and states resume determining whether residents are still eligible for Medicaid coverage.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist who joined KUNR as a reporter in November 2021.
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