For Members » Conventions

Organized, Quality Health Care Interpreter Services

WHEREAS:

           AFSCME supports language access for all in our country’s health care delivery system; and

WHEREAS:

           Language barriers have a marked effect on an individual’s health, affecting the ability to enroll in health coverage and  to communicate with doctors, nurses and other health care providers; and

WHEREAS:

           All limited English proficient patients should have access to language services, including oral interpretation and written translations, in all health care and public health settings. All health care and public health providers should have access to professional interpreters and translated materials to ensure effective communication with the individuals and families they serve; and

WHEREAS:

           Federal law requires that language services be provided. Language access is an integral part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and

WHEREAS:

           The expansion of health care under the Affordable Care Act offers many opportunities to improve language access by including specific provisions to increase funding, resources and services; and

WHEREAS:

           Health insurance expansion allows many patients who speak languages other than English to enroll in health care plans for the first time.  Of those patients enrolling in California alone, three million over five years will require language assistance; and

WHEREAS:

           AFSCME represents medical interpreters in Washington state, where our members provide interpretation in over 228,000 interactions per year between patients and providers; and

WHEREAS:

           Medical interpreters in other states face employer misclassification, poor working conditions and low pay; and

WHEREAS:

           AFSCME is working with stakeholders to establish a medical interpretation program in California that allows access to services and allows interpreters to have a voice in the program.  The program will create a new, statewide system for providing health care providers with funded, professional medical interpretation.  Over ten years, approximately 7,000 new jobs will be created in the medical interpreter field, bringing $270 million federal dollars per year to the state at a time when all available resources must be pursued to support the state’s implementation of health care reform.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

           Health care interpreters deserve widely recognized professional standards and certification.  They deserve respect and recognition as health care professionals who provide vital services and are entitled to a voice at work; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

           AFSCME will organize interpreters and give them a strong voice in their profession at the local and national level. We will fight to increase access to interpreter services and create more jobs for interpreters, while advocating for the increased professionalization of these services; and

BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED:

           AFSCME encourages states to accept all available federal funds to create interpreter programs that will ensure that all patients can be understood by their health care providers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

           AFSCME will support federal legislation to support the establishment of state-based systems for the delivery of medical interpreter services; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

            AFSCME will advocate for federal policies and administrative actions that promote the civil right to a medical language interpreter for all patients and their families.

 

SUBMITTED BY:
Sue Henricksen, President and Delegate
Terri McCullough, Secretary and Delegate
AFSCME Council 28
Washington

Get news & updates from AFSCME