(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Governor Jerry Brown signed 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.
“This is a great victory to ensure that language access does not become an obstacle to health care access,” said Ting. “Health care access depends on the ability to communicate with care providers. Now, we will have the tools we need to identify and resolve communication barriers so that our medical professionals can communicate in the languages of our communities.”
Sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Ting’s Assembly Bill (AB) 2102 expands the demographic information collected about medical professionals. Currently, the state collects ethnicity, gender, location, and language skills information for doctors and dentists. Since patients interact with many other medical professionals before seeing a doctor, current practices are incomplete.
“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.
Assembly Bill (AB) 2102 passed the State Assembly with a 52-19 vote following a 27-9 State Senate vote last week. Among a long and diverse list of supporters, the bill was 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.