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Lawmakers Consider Bill to Create Health Care Interpreters Program

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ellen Wu of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network says everyone who has health insurance in California is already guaranteed language interpretation.

But in practice, the service may be done over the phone, or through a family member.

WU: "There's a lot of use of adhoc personnel for these interpreter services."

Wu says 35% of the people newly eligible for Medi-Cal next year will speak English less than well.

She says creating a program could smooth over uneven language access procedures.

WU: "I'm hoping that such a program would both highlight the need and the availability of qualified interpreters, and if it's an easy system, that will also facilitate people accessing it more frequently." 

The bill is sponsored by the Speaker of the California Assembly, and is backed by a union.

The union says seven to ten thousand freelance interpreters would be needed to serve limited English speakers.

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