Bill to Increase Medical Interpreters in California


By Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen

Published: 04 March 2014


From the San Francisco Appeal...


Article Except: California State Assembly Speaker John Perez joined San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other state legislators at a North Beach community health center this morning in support of a bill that proposes increasing the number of medical interpreters for residents with limited English skills. As part of the bill introduced by Perez last Friday, the state Department of Health Care Services would establish a program to provide and reimburse medical interpreter services for those enrolled in the state’s health care program, MediCal. Up to 75 percent of funding for the services is eligible to come from a federal matching program, he said.


Link to the full story here.


Link to the full text of AB 2325 here.


InterpretAmerica's Take: The (re)introduction of Assembly Bill 2325 in California is a newsworthy development in the world of healthcare interpreting, not just in California, but for the rest of the United States as well. If the most populous state in the United States exercises the option to pull down Medicare dollars to pay for interpreting and translation services, it will set a powerful precedent for other states to do the same. The long-standing stalemate of the "who will pay for interpreting services in healthcare" hot potato might start to break. Yet, highlighting the full implications of this bill is more difficult than it may appear. The "new" bill is actually a rehash of AB 1263, vetoed last October by Governor Brown. The bill was championed by the union AFSCME's Interpreting for California campaign, which, in addition to pulling down partial federal reimbursement for healthcare interpreters, would also provide a mechanism for unionizing California's healthcare interpreters. Theisnew bill would do the same, instituting a certification pathway called CommuniCal for medical interpreters and authorizing AFSCME as the union for healthcare interpreters in California. Many of the same questions that plagued the first bill remain in this second bill. The story underlines the growing prominence of the medical interpreting sector and the increasing attention it is getting both from regulators and union organizers.

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