1999 – Fighting for Language Access

1999 – Fighting for Language Access Timelines: National Health Law Program Timeline

In 1999 a Farsi speaking women fell out of her bed at the Maine Medical Center, and despite her cries for help, she was ignored by staff who later claimed that they did not respond because they did not understand Farsi. The woman and another patient lodged complaints with the Office of Civil Rights, charging that the Maine Medical officials violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

The Office of Civil Rights, then under the direction of the Tom Perez, asked the National Health Law Program to participate in reaching a settlement in the case.  An extensive settlement agreement, developed by the National Health Law Program, was imposed on Maine Medical Center and was executed on July 17, 2000.

The settlement later became the framework for the Language Access Policy for the Department of Health & Human Services and was later used by Department of Justice to develop the federal government-wide language access policy.

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For almost 50 years, the National Health Law Program has fought to expand access to quality health care to low-income individuals and underserved communities. Today we are pleased to launch a newly designed website for our future work to make health care a reality for all people. Please take time to peruse our new site, and sign up for our email updates to learn about us, watch the work we do, and become engaged.

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