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Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. Tom Coburn
Ever since assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez's name was mentioned as a possible nominee for labor secretary, Republicans have been teeing up the excuses they'll be using to hold up or outright filibuster his nomination. In fact, some of those excuses were used to hold up his nomination to be assistant attorney general for months back in 2009. Like, for instance, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn's pet gripe: a federal requirement that some doctors provide translators for patients who don't speak English.

The requirement for translators dates back to a Clinton-era executive order, and in 2006, Perez wrote a piece opposing an amendment by Coburn (himself a doctor) to repeal the requirement.

"Coburn, by promoting this amendment, will undermine meaningful communication between doctors and patients," Perez added, "thus relegating those who do not speak English to a lower rung of our health care system."
Three years later, when Perez was confirmed to his Justice Department role, Coburn was still angry about it:
"After all my years of practicing medicine, I take offense at someone stating that I have a 'distressing disregard' for the doctor-patient relationship," Coburn said. "I have treated numerous patients who do not speak English and found ways to communicate with them. Often these patients have family members who speak some English or they find other ways to communicate. There is no reason to burden health-care providers with the expense of having to provide services in languages other than English."
Yes, I'm sure talking loudly and pointing at your patients' body parts worked really well. And it's not like anyone ever had reason to not want her family members to hear and in fact participate in every conversation she has with her OB/GYN, right? How dare Tom Perez have defended the idea that it's good for patients to be able to have conversations with their doctors!

Gosh, it's going to be fun to listen to Republicans bitch and moan about this for months, holding up Perez's nomination because Democrats made it possible by not passing real filibuster reform back in January.

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Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 01:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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