Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards Proposes National Medical Translation System
Presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C) yesterday proposed a national medical translation system that would include a 24-hour translation hotline for small and rural hospitals, as well as on-call translators for large hospitals in the nation's 100 most populous counties, the Los Angeles Times reports. In a recent study, fewer than half of hospitals said that they provide interpreters for patients or their family members who do not speak English, Edwards said at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund awards dinner in Washington, D.C. The medical translation system that Edwards proposed would provide translation services in five languages (Gest, Los Angeles Times, 6/12). The languages would include Spanish and four others. Edwards also proposed financial assistance for providers who become medical translators to help address communication problems in health care facilities (Pickler, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 6/11). "We need to stop differences in language and culture from interfering with good health care," Edwards said (Los Angeles Times, 6/12). Edwards also proposed increased federal funds for research on health disparities between whites and minorities to address "a deepening gap between the health status of minorities and the health status of whites" (AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 6/11). He said that Latinos are more likely to have diabetes or to die of cancer and are less likely to receive heart bypass surgery or organ transplants than whites (Los Angeles Times, 6/12). In addition, Edwards called for a health care rights section within the Justice Department and for an end to alcohol industry advertisements that target Hispanic teenagers (Wagner, Raleigh News & Observer, 6/12).
In related news, presidential candidate Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) yesterday promoted his near-universal health coverage proposal before a crowd in San Antonio (AP/Long Island Newsday, 6/12). PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" yesterday interviewed Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) as part of a series of health care conversations with Democratic presidential candidates (Suarez, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 6/11). The full segment is available in RealPlayer online.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.