Oregon House Democrats


May 18, 2011

Contact Geoff Sugerman (503) 986-1904

Michael Cox (503) 986-1904


House Republicans Reject Bill to Help Health Care Professionals Treat Patients More Effectively


SALEM – Oregon House Republicans today rejected a bill to train health care professionals in cultural competency, an effort to reduce the costs of health care and provide better care for Oregon’s growingly diverse population. SB 97-A failed on the House floor by a 30-30 vote, with all Democrats supporting the measure and all Republicans opposed.


State Rep. Tina Kotek said the defeat of the measure clearly shows a lack of understanding of the issues facing health care professionals and their patients.


“This is a much greater problem than most people realize. Studies have shown a lack of understanding about varying cultures, their health care needs and the varying propensity for certain diseases, adding hundreds of millions of dollars of cost to the health care system,” said Kotek (D-Portland). “We heard significant testimony that access to training would help health care professionals provide better care.”


State Rep. Greg Mathews, a firefighter, paramedic and former police officer said his colleagues strongly support improved training in cultural competency for medical professionals.


“We are the first responders. The more we know about the needs or wishes of a particular person, the better we can care for them,” said Rep. Matthews (D-Gresham). It’s more than just language. It’s better understanding of the cultural differences people hold. This bill has no fiscal impact… but it will make a positive difference in your communities.”


After voting yes to move the bill out of the House Health Care Committee bill, State Reps. Bill Kennemer and Jim Thompson voted no on the floor. Reps. Julie Parrish and Jim Weidner voted no on the bill in committee.


Kotek read members a portion of an email from a constituent who said that a doctor’s lack of knowledge led him to delay a test for colon cancer in her mother until she was at Stage Four.


“The costs of these errors, omissions or misunderstandings are enormous, both in the loss of human life and the costs to our health care system,” said Kotek. “This is a disappointing vote on a bill that had no opposition from anyone but Republicans in this building.”


The bill passed the Oregon Senate 22-7.