California Prepares to Offer National Diabetes Prevention Program to 13 million Medicaid Members in Multiple Languages

California, rich with cultural and linguistic diversity, is home to 40 million people; more than 12 million of those individuals are Medicaid (Medi-Cal) members. Many Medi-Cal members will have the opportunity to prevent type 2 diabetes by enrolling and completing a one-year lifestyle change program as part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP). This benefit will be available in 2019, and the agency overseeing Medi-Cal will provide services in English, Spanish, and 17 threshold languages.

A threshold language is a language identified on the Medi-Cal Eligibility Data System (MEDS) as the primary language of 3,000 beneficiaries, or five percent of the beneficiary population, whichever is lower, in an identified geographic area.[1]  In 2016, 38% (4,483,455 members) of Medi-Cal eligible persons reported a language, that met the criteria for a threshold language, other than English as their primary language. Seventeen distinct languages met the criteria for a threshold language: Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, English, Hindi, Farsi, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.[2]

The legislature approved a request for a budget of $500,000 for translation services of the National DPP curriculum, and a separate budget request of $10 million to support marketing of the new benefit. Both are awaiting full approval by the Budget Conference Committee. The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors will continue to work with the State Health Department and their partners to expand the National DPP. One partner, Health Policy Advocates, mobilized independently to secure Medicaid coverage for the National DPP and leads a coalition to develop implementation details for successful roll-out and uptake of the program. The coalition gathered input and submitted the budget request. For more information, contact Susan Lopez-Payan.

[1] California Code of Regulations, Title 9, Rehabilitative and Developmental Services, Section 1810.410(f)(3) Cultural and Linguistic Requirements.

[2] Frequency of Threshold Language Speakers in the Medi-Cal Population by County for January 2015. Medi-Cal Statistical Brief. September 2016. Available at:

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