US: Bills to Watch: H.B. 144 Medical Language Interpreter Act - R. Chavez-Houck

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Feb 6 15:47:52 UTC 2009

Bills to Watch: H.B. 144 Medical Language Interpreter Act - R. Chavez-Houck

I have developed this terrible sore throat and deep cough that wont
seem to go away, so, naturally, I went into the doctor to get it
checked out. Unfortunately every single doctor I went to spoke Creole,
you know, the language they speak in Louisiana and is a mish-mash of
about 20 different languages - so intertwined that it is a language in
its own right. Thankfully it went away on its own, but man, I have a
tickle in my throat and I am just not in the mood to put up with that
again. If only I had someone to translate for me... Now let us imagine
that the shoe is on the other foot and the patient does not speak
English. Do you think they are going to go to the doctor for every
cough, sniffle, and almond smelling would? My guess is no.

That is where H.B. 144 as proposed by Representative Rebecca
Chavez-Houck (D - Salt Lake, District 24) steps in. The bill would
allow people that speak English - Spanish, Russian, Bosnian, Somali,
Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, or Navajo to become certified translators
for those various languages. Now this bill does not require that
hospitals have these translators on their staff, it simply sets up the
rules and regulations to ensure that someone is qualified to translate
between doctors and their patients. A hospital can hire these people
if they so choose.

This bill is good policy - not only does it set up legal framework to
encourage hospitals to be more competitive in regards to patient care,
but it also makes sick people more likely to go to the hospital to get
care in the first place. Guess what people, the flu does not care what
color your skin is or what language you speak, it cares even less if
you are in this country legally or not, all it just knows that it will
grow, multiply, and spread to everyone it can...potentially killing
people in the process.

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