Disparities Council Pushes Linguistically and Culturally Competent Care

The Health Disparities Council held its bi-monthly meeting on Monday. Chaired by Representative Rushing, the members focused on legislative opportunities, interpreter services, and the Latino community to address health disparities in Massachusetts.

Hank Porten, President of the Valley Health Systems in Holoyoke, opened the meeting by discussing the current steps that are being taken by the legislative working group to improve access and quality of care. The group detailed a roadmap of how they plan on achieving this goal, including payment reform and support of a system-wide redesign. Once this goal is achieved, the group hopes to work towards the enactment of malpractice reform and peer review status and increased transparency.

Terri Yannetti from the Office of Health Equity updated the council on their ongoing recommendation of reimbursement for medical interpreters. Discussed were the limitations of MassHealth and the methodology of acute inpatient/outpatient payment amounts. The group is looking for sustainability when it comes to how the interpreters are paid.

The majority of the meeting focused on how to build a pipeline of linguistically and culturally competent mental health providers for the Latino community presented by the Masachusetts School of Professional Psychology. The Laria Mental Health Program through MSPP is a collaborative effort that offers students the opportunity to become linguistically and culturally competent before serving the 20% of individuals in the U.S. who are of Latino descent. One way they achieve this competency is by participating in a 5 week immersion program to Costa Rica or Ecuador during the summer. The main goals of this program are to increase the number of Latino mental health professionals in the U.S. and provide current psychologists with training that is needed to serve this population.

Please visit the Health Disparities Council webpage for more information.
-Brittany McDaniel

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