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As of Wednesday, March 18, HCA’s lobby will be closed. In-person customer services for Apple Health and the PEBB and SEBB Programs will not be available. Learn more.

Sign language interpreter contract transition

On January 1, 2020, the Health Care Authority (HCA) and the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) partnered to implement a new way for medical providers to request sign language interpreters for Apple Health (Medicaid) clients.

Three objectives helped drive the decision to transition from Universal Language Services to using the state sign language contracts managed by ODHH:

  • To improve Apple Health client access to sign language interpreters.
  • To remove language access inequities through better communication matches.
  • To separate sign language interpreter services from spoken language interpreter services.

We are working hard to make this transition as smooth as possible for providers, interpreters and members of the Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened, and Deaf Plus community. If you are experiencing issues, we want to hear from you.

Please contact us at interpretersvcs@hca.wa.gov.

Stakeholder Meeting: Our next stakeholder meeting, that was scheduled for Monday, March 9, 2020 has been canceled.

Though the public health risk from COVID-19 (corona virus) remains low, out of an abundance of caution and based on the guidance of the Department of Health, the Health Care Authority has made the decision to postpone the Stakeholder Meeting with the Deaf, DeafBlind, Late Deafened, Deaf Plus, and Hard of Hearing community. We will work with the Tacoma Community Justice Center to secure a meeting date in April or May. Once we have secured a date, we and the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH), will send out a GovDelivery message via email.

Clients: Your health care provider is required to provide spoken and sign language access, according to the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For more information, visit the Interpreter services (clients) webpage.

Interested in what's happening with interpreter services? 

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Providers: new sign language request process

HCA and the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) have created a new process for requesting sign language (SL) interpreters for Apple Health (Medicaid) enrolled clients. HCA is offering Apple Health providers a variety of options to learn about the new process. 

What does this mean for me?

You will submit your requests using the ProviderOne portal.

View the Prior authorization (PA) webpage for more information about:

  • How to submit a prior authorization request
  • How to check the status of an authorization

Important: The DSHS Request for Sign Language Interpreter form (DSHS 17-123B)​ must be provided with the first two sections completed.

What if I have a last minute request?

If you need an interpreter and the client's appointment is less than seven days away, the request can be expedited by:

Webinars

Sign language contractors and agencies: Interpreter Services Billing

This webinar is designed for independent sign language contractors and sign language agencies that are contracted under the state sign language contract (through DSHS/ODHH) and who will be receiving interpreter requests from HCA for Apple Health (Medicaid) enrolled clients. The webinar will provide training on how to submit your claim to receive payment for the interpreter services you provided​. Prior registration is required. 

Providers: Request SL Interpreters Q/A

This webinar is for providers who need help on requesting ASL interpreters through ProviderOne PriorAuth. Prior registration is required. 

Training resources

For providers

For sign language agencies and independent contractors

Frequently asked questions

The fulfillment rates of sign language (SL) interpreter services covering appointments for the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Medicaid population within Washington have historically been insufficient to meet the needs of the population. HCA interpreter services SL stakeholders have consistently asked HCA to consider contracting with SL agencies to provide SL services to Apple Health clients.

In July 2019, HCA contracted with a vendor to provide both spoken and SL services. While this new vendor was able to increase SL fulfillment rates, many Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing clients were not able to secure an interpreter for their Apple Health appointments.

After receiving feedback from stakeholders at the February 25, 2019 stakeholder meeting, HCA began exploring recommendations to either:

  • Work directly with SL agencies, or
  • Utilize the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) SL agency contracts.

Working through these two options with stakeholders, HCA opted to utilize ODHH SL agency contracts beginning January 1, 2020 to fulfill Apple Health client’s requests for SL interpretation services.

ODHH currently works with the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) to reprocure their SL contracts and implement new, statewide master contracts. HCA will utilize the SL master contracts to provide SL interpreters for Apple Health clients.

Visit ODHH’s website for more information about their Sign Language Interpreter Contractors.

Workgroups

HCA hosts a quarterly stakeholder meeting to keep the community up-to-date with program changes. From this group of stakeholders, HCA has formed a sub-workgroup that meets bimonthly and assists HCA with designing and implementing key pieces of the new process in partnership with ODHH.

Agenda and meeting materials are added as they become available. Contact interpretersvcs@hca.wa.gov to participate in these workgroups. 

Stakeholder workgroup

Date

Agenda

Minutes and other materials

December 16, 2019 Agenda (stakeholders - 12/16/2019) Minutes (stakeholders - 12/16/2019)

September 24, 2019

Agenda (stakeholders - 09/24/2019)

Minutes (stakeholders - 09/24/2019)

Overview of HCA temporary interpreter request process 

Sub-workgroup

Date

Agenda

Minutes and other materials

February 3, 2020 Agenda (sub-workgroup - 02/03/2020) Minutes (sub-workgroup-02/03/2020)
December 16, 2019 Agenda (sub-workgroup - 12/16/2019) Minutes (sub-workgroup - 12/16/2019)
November 5, 2019 Agenda (sub-workgroup - 11/05/2019) Minutes (sub-workgroup - 11/05/2019)
September 24, 2019 Agenda (sub-workgroup - 09/24/2019)

Minutes (sub-workgroup - 09/24/2019)

Request for sign language interpreter form - current version: 05/2007 (DSHS 17-123a)

Request for sign language interpreter form - proposed revisions (DSHS 17-123a) 

Contact