The intent of this study was to examine the nature and extent of culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) in managed care organizations (MCOs) across the country and highlight promising CLAS practices implemented by these organizations. Additionally, the project set out to fill a significant gap in the health care field by identifying and developing a comprehensive conceptual framework that ultimately included eight “assessment domains” as essential components of CLAS and by developing an assessment tool that offers sound measures of these components. The assessment tool – a questionnaire developed in three parts to be answered by MCO staff knowledgeable about, respectively, organizational governance and policies, staffing, and membership services – was conducted in a national random sample of MCOs comprising the Directory for the American Association of Health Plans. Seventy- seven out of 256 eligible MCOs participated (30 percent), completing from one through three questionnaire components. The study findings, while not generalizable to the universe of MCOs nor indicative of national trends in health care service delivery, do show that MCOs are providing many types of services that address the specific needs of their culturally and linguistically diverse members, and provide examples of how MCOs are doing it. For each of the eight domains, numerous examples of the types and ranges of services and practices implemented by the MCOs are described. Additionally, the study highlights certain “higher-end” CLAS practices as promising in that the literature suggests they may improve quality of care and services for culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Finally, the instructive nature of the questionnaire design serves to educate respondents in the process of conducting the study about their organizational CLAS practices. Recommendations for future research, further refinement of the conceptual framework, and specific to health plans are provided.
PIC ID: 6674; Agency Sponsor: OPHS-OMH, Office of Minority Health; Federal Contact: Hawks, Betty, 301-443-5084; Performer: Cosmos Corporation, Bethesda, MD