Chicago Tribune Examines HHS ‘Cultural Competence’ Training Guidelines
The Chicago Tribune on Monday reported on the reaction to HHS' "cultural competence" guidelines, which attempt to standardize health care professionals' training to help them understand and interact with a diverse patient population. While many medical officials say culturally sensitive care is important, they "fear costly new federal mandates to meet cultural and linguistic needs," such as former President Bill Clinton's 2000 executive order requiring all physicians who receive federal assistance to provide a trained clinical interpreter at their own expense. Health advocates say many hospitals have put cultural competence training "on the back burner." As a result, advocates want to make the training, along with interpreters, mandatory, the Tribune reports. Advocates also say such training can help providers financially by making them less susceptible to lawsuits resulting from "miscommunication with patients," the Tribune reports. The American Medical Association, however, has opposed efforts to mandate cultural training and interpreters, saying the requirements amount to an "unfunded mandate." For example, the AMA estimates that interpreters in Washington, D.C., cost $145 an hour, while Medicaid reimburses doctors $30. Yank Coble, president of the AMA, said, "We have been taking care of people from other cultures for many years. Once you start introducing from the outside all these incredible regulations and apply them broadly, it's creating enormous barriers rather than enhancing quality," the Tribune reports (Avila, Chicago Tribune, 11/25).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.