Alliance of Community Health Plans Partners With Merck Company Foundation to Make Business Case For Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care

Project expected to facilitate broader implementation of culturally and linguistically appropriate services to improve health care 

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) today announced that the ACHP Foundation has been awarded $235,000 by the Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck Company Foundation, the philanthropic arm of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc., to help organizations pursuing culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) in health care make a business case to adopt these programs.

The project, which is expected to run for 18 months, involves identifying, assembling and disseminating information to explain the business value of implementing CLAS programs. The project will produce a set of materials to educate and market a wide range of CLAS activities to health care executives.  It will also show those responsible for implementing CLAS how to use ACHP’s resources to reach out to various populations. 

“The Merck Company Foundation’s generous support for this project helps address a critical barrier to the broader adoption of CLAS in health care,” said Jack Ebeler, President and CEO of ACHP, whose member health plans and provider organizations are participating in the project.

ACHP members and partners at other health care organizations will collect and synthesize quantitative and qualitative information on CLAS, with the assistance of ACHP, which is managing the effort.

“Health care organizations serve an increasingly diverse population of Americans, yet many of these entities haven’t adapted to meet the needs of different people and groups.  Without resources to show that CLAS makes good business sense, it’s been difficult for organizations to decide where to put their energy and effort,” Ebeler continued.  “We’re hopeful that this project helps to change that.”

An advisory committee comprised of CLAS experts at ACHP member organizations, federal health care agencies, purchasers and other groups with a history of substantial involvement in CLAS implementation will guide ACHP’s efforts to promote the business case for CLAS in health care.

“We as a society have an obligation to ensure that everyone receives high-quality health care, regardless of their background,” said Leslie M. Hardy, Vice President of The Merck Company Foundation.  “If this project encourages more organizations to make CLAS a priority, then we’re another step closer to meeting our obligation.”

CLAS initiatives include a wide variety of programs to ensure that the health care system works for all Americans – including those who come from diverse backgrounds or who do not speak or understand English.

The legal and regulatory requirements for providing health care services to individuals with limited English proficiency are complex and challenging to implement.  Although materials to assist health care organizations implement CLAS programs exist, coordinated and ongoing programs on CLAS and implementation are lacking.  In particular, little information is available to help organizations make a business case for CLAS.

Once the project has been completed, materials to help organizations make the business case for CLAS will be broadly disseminated to the health care and health policy communities and will be available to the public at

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About the Alliance of Community Health Plans:
The Alliance of Community Health Plans brings together innovative health plans and provider organizations that are among America’s best at delivering affordable, high-quality coverage and care to their communities. Drawing on years of experience, members collaborate to identify problems, share information and work toward solutions to some of health care’s biggest challenges. Their work is the foundation for ACHP’s advocacy on behalf of better health care nationally. More information is available at


About The Merck Company Foundation:

The Merck Company Foundation is a US-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck & Co., Inc., a global research-driven pharmaceutical company, the Foundation is funded entirely by the Company and is Merck’s chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations. The mission of the Foundation is to support organizations and innovative programs that: expand access to medicines, vaccines and quality healthcare; build capacity in the biomedical and health sciences; promote environments that encourage innovation, economic growth and development in a fair and ethical context; and support communities where Merck has a major presence.