Sacramento Bee Looks at Debate Over Mexican Doctors Bill
The Sacramento Bee this week examines the debate surrounding a bill (AB 1045) that is designed to bring "culturally competent," Spanish-speaking physicians from Mexico to work in clinics in underserved areas throughout the state (Martinez, Sacramento Bee, 7/25). Sponsored by Assembly member Marco Firebaugh (D-Los Angeles) and passed by the Assembly 48-15 last month, the bill would grant three-year licenses to 70 doctors and 50 dentists from Mexico, where residency programs and requirements are "shorter and less intense than those California normally requires for foreign medical or dental school graduates." All candidates would be required to speak and read English and would have to serve in a California clinic for six months under a University of California teaching program (California Healthline, 6/25). Supporters say the bill could help many clinics statewide that serve predominantly low-income, Latino communities, which have been unable to hire enough physicians to serve a largely Spanish-speaking population. Arnold Torres, president of the California Hispanic Health Association, which runs 60 clinic throughout the state that serve low-income areas, said, "We can't find doctors, period, much less doctors who are linguistically and culturally competent." Critics of the bill, however, say the bill would create a "two-tier" health care system by "loosening licensing requirement." But with few physicians willing to treat Medi-Cal patients, supporters say there "already exists a two-tier care system." Still, the measure's opponents and supports agree that "[t]here aren't enough doctors providing care for the poor." Joseph Martel, chair of the legislative committee for the California Latino Medical Association, said, "The answer is to produce more Latino doctors" with California degrees and training. "But that's not happening. And right now the medical work force in California is incapable of taking care of these populations," he said (Sacramento Bee, 7/25).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.