(SACRAMENTO, CA) – The California State Legislature passed a bill authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, to help California provide culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare to millions of Californians with limited English language skills.
Assembly Bill (AB) 2102 passed the State Assembly with a 52-19 vote following a 27-9 State Senate vote last week. It now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature or veto.
“Patients cannot access healthcare if they cannot communicate with their care providers,” said Ting. “This bill gives us the tools we need to identify and resolve communication barriers. We need medical professionals who can communicate with our diverse population.”
Currently, California collects demographic information for doctors and dentists – specifically ethnicity, gender, location, and language skills. Since patients interact with many other medical professionals before seeing a doctor, this data collection standard is incomplete. Sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Ting’s Assembly Bill (AB) 2102 requires the state to collect the same information for nurses, physician assistants, respiratory care providers, and psychiatric technicians every other year in order to help California assess the medical industry’s capacity to provide healthcare in the most culturally appropriate manner.
“At a minimum, patients must be able to tell their care providers where it hurts and how badly,” added Ting. “More Californians than ever before have health insurance. But this growth in coverage through Covered California may not lead to better health while communication barriers persist. We have an obligation to act to ensure good health outcomes for limited English speaking Californians.”
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, tel. (916) 319-2019, firstname.lastname@example.org