Dancer bill requires interpretation services to be provided to patients during telehealth visits

Dancer bill requires interpretation services to be provided to patients during telehealth visits

Ron Dancer

TRENTON, N.J. – Given the rise in telehealth usage during the pandemic and New Jersey’s diverse population, Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants to ensure equitable access to telemedicine by requiring certain health care facilities to provide language interpretation services.

Under Dancer’s bill (A4388), if a facility is currently required by law to provide interpretation services for in-person visits, it would also need to provide patients with those services during telehealth sessions.

“Telehealth has proven to be beneficial for residents who want convenience, or who have health conditions or other circumstances that prevent them from visiting providers in person. My measure ensures residents with limited English proficiency or hearing loss can also schedule virtual visits without facing communication barriers,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “Expanding health care options for all patients will also better equip New Jersey to handle future public health emergencies.”

According to a study by Trilliant Health, 1 in 4 Americans used telehealth during the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and 40% of patients surveyed in May 2021 said they plan to continue using telehealth.

“Making telemedicine more inclusive will only make us a stronger and healthier state,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said.

About 5% of New Jersey residents have limited English proficiency. There are approximately 850,000 New Jerseyans with varying degrees of hearing loss ranging from mild to profound.

Dancer’s bill has been referred to the Assembly Health Committee.