Speaker John A. Pérez, Mayor Ed Lee and Assemblymember Phil Ting Back Bill to Increase Medical Interpreters so Health Care Doesn’t Get Lost in Translation

For immediate release:

(Sacramento) – Appearing at Northeast Medical Services in Chinatown, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today called for enactment of the Speaker’s legislation, AB 2325, which would increase the number of medical interpreters to help ensure Californians with limited English receive the right medical treatment.

“In a state as large and diverse as California, we need to ensure that people who are seeking medical attention are able to effectively communicate their symptoms, so that doctors can correctly identify the illness or injury and take the appropriate steps to treat it,” Speaker Pérez said. “This legislation is a smart investment in health care for Californians, because the vast majority of the funds available come from the federal government, so we can improve health care outcomes and generate economic activity without significantly impacting California’s budget.”


AB 2325 requires the California Department of Health Care Services to establish a program to provide and reimburse for medical interpreter services to limited-English proficient Medi-Cal beneficiaries. With federal funds that are currently being left on the table, California can receive a 50% to 75% federal match for these services, meaning for every $25 the state puts in, the federal government could contribute up to $75.

“Increasing medical interpreter services in California for those with limited English will help keep people healthy and even save lives,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “Thank you to Speaker John Pérez for helping our State access available Federal funding to improve healthcare delivery and for leading the State effort to improve cultural competency for our diverse residents so that they can access critical services when they need them most.”

“We are enrolling over a million new people into Medi-Cal,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “This is just the first step. The point is to ensure that coverage translates into quality health care. Since many Californians cannot speak English, we need interpreters to ensure patients can communicate with their doctors effectively.”

North East Medical Services (NEMS) CEO Eddie Chan said interpretation services are imperative “for our patients so they can receive healthcare seamlessly in their native tongue.”

More than 40 percent of Californians speak a language other than English at home and almost seven million Californians are estimated to speak English “less than very well.”  Research has found that language barriers can contribute to inadequate patient evaluation and diagnosis, lack of appropriate and/or timely treatment or other medical errors that can jeopardize patient safety and lead to unnecessary procedures and costs.

Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker

Website of Assemblymember Ting: www.asmdc.org/ting

Below are links to audio of Speaker Pérez and Assemblymember Ting:

[span class=media]Opening remarks from Speaker Pérez at today’s AB 2325 news conference. (4:25)

[span class=media]Speaker Pérez says federal dollars available for interpreter services will offset the cost to California. (:19)

[span class=media]Speaker Pérez says implementation of AB 2325 would put interpreters on the ground or make them available electronically. (:27)

[span class=media]Speaker Pérez says the availability of interpreters after the Asiana Airlines flight 214 crash at SFO saved lives. (:28)

[span class=media]Remarks from Assemblymember Phil Ting at today’s AB 2325 news conference. (2:23)

CONTACT: John Vigna, (916) 319-2408