Union-Tribune Praises Bill that Would Allow Mexican Doctors, Dentists to Practice at State Clinic
While many doctors "were up in arms" over a bill (AB 1045) that would ease state licensing requirements, allowing 120 doctors and dentists from Mexico to "practice temporarily" in California, a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial points out that "professional indignation" has begun to "die down" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/5). The legislation, sponsored by Assembly member Marco Firebaugh (D-Los Angeles), would provide three-year state licenses to 70 doctors and 50 dentists from Mexico, which has "shorter and less intense" residency requirements than California "normally requires for foreign medical or dental school graduates." The bill would also require candidates to speak and read English and to serve in a California clinic for six months under a University of California teaching program (California Healthline, 6/25). Although opponents had called the bill "a slippery slope toward the establishment of a two-tiered health care system" and a "degradation of American health care standards," the editorial points out that the legislation addresses a "serious problem" -- California "doesn't have enough culturally competent doctors and dentists to care for our enormous population of Mexican immigrants." The editorial adds that with "more culturally competent doctors" at state health clinics, Medi-Cal-eligible patients who speak Spanish "will be drawn to proper primary care," rather than relying on emergency rooms, which will save taxpayers and hospitals money. In addition, the editorial notes that the 120 Mexican doctors and dentists will have to pass the same medical licensing tests as American physicians. The editorial concludes, "The shortage of family practitioners, internists, pediatricians and obstetricians who speak Spanish and will work in not-for-profit clinics is acute. And that shortage has created exactly the kind of two-tiered health care system that so worries the medical establishment" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/5).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.