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Capitol Health Call
September 9, 2009

Lost in Translation

JAMA. 2009;302(10):1050. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1274

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should do a better job in translating documents for individuals with limited English proficiency, concluded the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a report released July 30.

The report studied 134 Medicare documents, such as forms, notices, and publications, that the CMS created and that can be used by beneficiaries. It found that 87% were translated into Spanish and, to a limited extent, other languages, including Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. The GAO said decisions to translate depended entirely on the choices made by individual departments of the CMS and were not based on any agencywide policy.

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