Union Supports New Bill To Improve Access to Medi-Cal Interpreters
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is supporting a bill (AB 1263) that would seek to improve access to Medi-Cal interpreters and allow them to join a workers union, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
AFSCME aims to represent Medi-Cal interpreters if the measure becomes law (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 3/28)
The bill -- by Assembly Speaker JohnÂ PÃ©rez (D-Los Angeles) -- would create a system, called CommuniCal, to improve access to interpreters at physician offices and hospitals (California Healthline, 3/14).
The legislation also would:
- Require the State Personnel Board to determine appropriate testing, training and certification of new Medi-Cal interpreters;
- Give such interpreters the right to join a public workers union and collectively bargain with the state; and
- Guarantee the interpreters payment of at least $60 per hour.
Reaction to Bill
Ellen Wu -- director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network -- said that having more Medi-Cal interpreters is important because "not being able to communicate symptoms and experiences with your health care provider will lead to miscommunication, misdiagnosis, mistreatment plans and less satisfaction in care."
However, Jon Coupal -- president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- said that the bill's push to unionize Medi-Cal interpreters reflects the "inordinate political power" of public worker unions in a Democrat-controlled Legislature.
He said, "It becomes far more costly to taxpayers than it needs to be when you create these kinds of classes of contractors who are subject to unionization."
Bill Glasser -- owner of Language World Services, a Carmichael-based interpreter company -- said the bill would perpetuate a system of independent contractors. He said that the interpreters instead should become supervised employees of health care facilities.According to Glasser, "People need to be monitored and trained and quality assured and managed" (Sacramento Bee, 3/28). 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.