Assembly Passes Bill to Improve Healthcare for Limited English Speaking Patients

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – The California State Assembly passed legislation authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, that will help California provide healthcare to millions of Californians with limited English language skills.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2102 passed the Assembly with a 57-13 vote.  It now moves to the State Senate for further review.

“We must solve a basic problem,” said Ting.  “Patients cannot access healthcare if they cannot communicate with their care providers.  Today’s action will help us recruit and retain medical professionals who can speak the languages of our communities.”

Currently, California collects demographic data only about doctors and dentists, leaving a huge gap in what we know about our healthcare infrastructure.  Sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Ting’s AB 2102 requires the state to collect demographic information – specifically ethnicity, gender, location, and language skills data – for nurses, physician assistants, respiratory care providers, and psychiatric technicians in order to help California assess the medical industry’s capacity to provide healthcare in the most culturally appropriate manner.

“Covered California allows thousands of Californians to get health insurance, but having health insurance is useless if you can’t communicate with your health care provider,” added Ting.

More than 40 percent of Californians speak a language other than English at home and almost 7 million Californians speak English less than very well.  California needs its healthcare workforce to communicate with patients in the most culturally appropriate manner.  Failure to do so can lead to dire, even tragic consequences.  Limited English proficient patients are at far greater risk of being misdiagnosed and improperly treated for their ailments.  Lack of language access in healthcare increases the use of more expensive emergency services, higher diagnostic and testing costs, and increased liability for providers.

Among a long and diverse list of supporters, AB 2102 is backed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, and Chinese Progressive Action.  Further information is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

CONTACT: Anthony Matthews (Ting), tel. (916) 319-2019, anthony.matthews@asm.ca.gov