skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Gov. Brown Vetos Program For Medical Interpreters

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Sunday that would have established a system for delivering and reimbursing face-to-face language interpretation at doctors' offices and hospitals.

Assembly Bill 1263, introduced by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), called on the state to draw down federal dollars to create a program called CommuniCal. It would have certified and registered medical interpreters and paid them through Medi-Cal.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

Currently, patients often get interpretation over the phone or through family members and friends. There is no state registry or certification process to vet professional interpreters.

City Heights residents have been advocating for the bill for a year, sharing stories of medical mishaps and wrong diagnoses caused by communication barriers. They joined AFSCME union organizers at a protest at the UC San Diego Medical Center in July.

“At the [UC San Diego] Shiley Eye Center, we’ve heard that patients have been told not to schedule appointments if they don’t have interpreters,” said Christina Griffin, an organizer for the United Domestic Workers of America who worked on AFSCME's "Interpreting for California" campaign. “We’ve also heard of procedures happening without the consent or the full understanding of the patient — you know, someone signing a paper but not knowing what they’re signing. Also people under the age of 18, in some circumstances younger than teenagers, being used as interpreters.”

In his veto message, Brown said, "I don't believe it would be wise to introduce yet another complex element" to the state's rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which includes a new health insurance exchange and a Medi-Cal expansion.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | October 14, 2013 at 4:45 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Yea!!!!! Learn to speak English if you want to live among us. Perhaps we should put online learning discs all along the border. Maybe the future felons will catch a clue. Oh, and leave your flag of Mexico behind.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 15, 2013 at 7:31 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Remember the old song speak English or die? Well its not that dramatic. But we really should stop catering to those who refuse to learn engerish! Video chat technology has come a long way! City heights residents complain? Well when u don't learn the language u have no grounds to complain that no one understands you. Go to bay view heights condos sometime. You will feel like black hawk down. The isolationism that some people have created by trying to live only amongst their own is a double edged sword.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | October 15, 2013 at 7:33 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

And what, pray tell, do you suggest doing with the Iraqi and Somali patients, _uckkkapoo1? You yourself do not even know medical terminolgoy in English!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 15, 2013 at 7:54 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Do what we do today. Throw them in the bus and take them to the hospital.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 15, 2013 at 11:06 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

I have no problem with hospitals providing interpreters for patients whose first language may not be English.

Let's not forget many Americans live abroa and it's a scary prospect to find yourself in a situation where you need urgent medical care and are unable to communicate fully to the medical personnel.

I do think the medical personnel working here should be fluent in English (I've seen cases where nurses from the Philippines are very hard to understand in U.S. Hospitals, but that is a different issue from simply having interpereters available for people whose first language isn't English.

Let's show a little compassion here. If an American aid worker working on humanitarian causes were to fall ill in a foreign land, I think we would all want them to have someone to interpret for them in the local hospital.

Likewise, we have immigrants here who have fled war ravaged countries like Somalia, and it takes time to learn English (it's not always the case "they aren't trying") so what is the problem worn offering them interpreters?

In fact, it is a public health issue, if medication or instructions for treating infectious diseases are not communicated clearly to immigrant communities, epidemics can arise that impact is all.

Shame on you Mr. Brown for giving in to xenophobes.

And equally shame on you for selling your soul to the gun lobby and prison bosses as we saw from your other recent vetoes!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | October 15, 2013 at 11:24 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Multilingualism brings the world together and is a highly desirable trait. Some people waste more time defending their backwater ignorance than they otherwise would by actually learning a few words.

That said, Governor Brown's veto is reasonable in light of budgetary constraints. Also, Somalis, Eritreans and Ethiopians have fascinating cultures; and, "Black Hawk Down" was a lame caricature of Africans.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | October 15, 2013 at 12:01 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

_uckkkapoo and SDREEFER, a liberal governor voted your way, so what's your compaliant?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 15, 2013 at 12:37 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

The better questions is when will we see English interpreters in hospitals for Americans?

Tagalog seems to be the dominant language spoken by medical assistants and their broken English is nearly impossible to decipher.

I can only imagine how an Iraqi saying "my chest hurts" gets translated from Arabic to Tagalog to English and becomes "I'd like a decaf coffee".

Sorry, but translators are necessary in a hospital for everyone. Even for us natives. Besides, can't we just bill it to Obamacare? Washington has lots of money. Right?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | October 15, 2013 at 2 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago


Every major hospital in San Diego has an internal translator network in most languages. EMTs and first responders might have trouble in the field, but translational services are available once they reach the hospital. No one is saying the services aren't necessary, but I think that's an area where the community has to pull together to save money and resources.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | October 15, 2013 at 2:29 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

I have no complaint with it. About time Moonbeam got something right.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 15, 2013 at 2:46 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

I do not take issue with having interpreters available. I take issue with those who have been here for decades and refuse to learn the language of the land. The pinay rn's are very hard to understand sometimes. I wonder how some of them passed their reciprocity exam sometimes. If you were to reside in another country it would be expected you learn the language of the land. It should be no different here.

( | suggest removal )