California Lawmakers To Reconsider Medical Interpreter Legislation
California lawmakers for a second time will consider legislation that would create a system to improve Medi-Cal beneficiaries' access to interpreters at physician offices and hospitals in the state, Capital Public Radio/KVPR reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Bartolone, Capital Public Radio/KVPR, 4/8).
Last year, lawmakers introduced a bill (AB 1263) that aimed to improve Medi-Cal beneficiaries' access to interpreters and allow such workers to join a union.
The bill would have created a system, called CommuniCal, to improve access to interpreters at physician offices and hospitals. The legislation also would have:
- Required the State Personnel Board to determine appropriate testing, training and certification of new Medi-Cal interpreters;
- Given such interpreters the right to join a public workers union and collectively bargain with the state; and
- Guaranteed the interpreters payment of at least $60 per hour.
However, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed the bill, stating that considering the state's expansion of Medi-Cal per the Affordable Care Act, it would not be "wise to introduce yet another complex element" (California Healthline, 10/15/13).
Reintroduction of the Bill
The measure will be reintroduced in the Legislature this year, and backers hope Brown will be more amenable to the bill now that implementation of the Affordable Care is farther along.
Will Schuck, with the California Assembly Speaker's office, said, "It was popular with the Legislature last year, and we're hoping it will be more popular with the governor" this year (Capital Public Radio/KVPR, 4/8).
Calif. Hospitals Address Indigenous Language Barrier
In related news, some California hospitals have faced difficulties communicating with patients who only speak indigenous languages, NPR's "Morning Edition" reports. Many hospitals in the state have medical interpreters but most only speak Spanish.
In recent years, officials at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas began training individuals who speak indigenous languages to become medical interpreters through the hospital's Indigenous Interpreting Plus program. The medical facility now includes interpreters of nearly a dozen indigenous languages, such as Mixteco and Triqui.
The services are offered for free to Natividad patients, while other hospitals and agencies can access the interpreters and interpreter training for a fee (Almanzan, "Morning Edition," NPR, 4/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.