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New Law Emphasizes Diversity in Health Care Workforce

For Immediate Release
Friday, September 19, 2014

New Law Emphasizes Diversity in Health Care Workforce

AB 2102 Will Help Identify Areas for Improvement by Requiring Collection of Demographic Data

OAKLAND, Calif. – On September 18th, Governor Jerry Brown helped California take an important step in identifying shortages in the health care workforce by signing Assembly Bill 2102, which facilitates the collection of demographic data within allied health professions. Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D - San Francisco), the new law is co-sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC).

“This is a great victory to ensure that language access does not become an obstacle to health care access,” Assemblymember Ting said. “Health care access depends on the ability to communicate with care providers. Now, we will have the tools we need to identify and resolve communication barriers so that our medical professionals can communicate in the languages of our communities. At a minimum, patients must be able to tell their care providers where it hurts and how badly. More Californians than ever before have health insurance. But this growth in coverage through Covered California may not lead to better health while communication barriers persist. We have an obligation to act to ensure good health outcomes for limited English speaking Californians.”

AB 2102 builds upon current law requiring the collection of demographic data on physicians and dentists including ethnicity, gender, and language capacity. Under the new law, professional boards within the Department of Consumer Affairs will be required to collect similar data on registered nurses, nurse practitioners, vocational nurses, physician assistants, respiratory care providers, and psychiatric technicians. 

“This is an exciting day for the health of California’s communities of color,” said Sarah de Guia, executive director of CPEHN. “The collection of demographic data in these health professions will help create a workforce that is better equipped to meet our communities’ diverse health needs.”

“Consumers will have more confidence in our health care system knowing it is capable of handling a diverse range of needs,” said Xavier Morales, executive director of LCHC. “This law will go a long way towards helping us develop a dynamic workforce capable of helping everyone, in particular the state’s growing Latino population.”

“This bill arrives at an opportune time and provides a clearer picture of the current healthcare workforce including the gaps we need to fill to best meet the needs of our State’s diverse populations,” said Lindsay Gervacio, Program Manager at Families in Good Health, a supporter of AB 2102. 

Further information about AB 2012 is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov

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The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) works to eliminate health disparities by advocating for public policies and sufficient resources to address the health needs of communities of color.

The Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) is committed to initiating and advancing policies that will increase access to health services and build healthy Latino communities in California.

The Women’s Policy Institute, a program of the Women’s Foundation of California, is a year-long fellowship program that amplifies the voices of women who are leading grassroots social justice efforts and trains them on how legislation is made.