Programs & services

Interpreter services (providers)

Providers are required to ensure spoken and sign language access according to Title VI of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Note: For language access or ADA questions or to file a complaint, visit our nondiscrimination webpage.

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Providers: temporary sign language (SL) request process (starting October 1)

The Health Care Authority (HCA) and the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) are finalizing a new process for requesting SL interpreters for Medicaid clients for service dates after January 1, 2020.  (See our Sign language interpreter contract transition webpage for details.)  

What does this mean for me?

Until process development is complete (estimated by end of October 2019), providers must take the following steps to secure an SL interpreter for the following situations:

  • For services now through December 31, 2019: continue current electronic submittal process with Universal Language Services (ULS).
  • For services January 1, 2020 and after: use our temporary “manual” process until we finalize the new process. The new process will include electronic submittal option. 

Important: ULS will stop accepting sign language requests for 2020 appointments on October 1, 2019.

What is the temporary “manual” process?

For 2020 service dates: until the new electronic submittal process is in place, you must:

  1. Complete the first two sections of the DSHS Form #17-123A.
  2. Send the form via email to
    ​Include the following in your email:
    1. Medical provider's name
    2. Medical provider's NPI number
    3. Medical provider's specialization (i.e. behavioral health, primary care, cardiology, etc.)
    4. The Apple Health client's ProviderOne number
  3. HCA will review the form and send you an email confirmation accepting the request.
  4. Once the request has an interpreter assigned (filled), HCA will send a confirmation email with the name of the interpreter and/or interpreter agency.

How do I request an interpreter for 2019?

You must submit all requests for SL interpreter services with 2019 dates of services to ULS.

Program information

The Health Care Authority's (HCA) interpreter services (IS) supports you in your efforts by offering interpreter services for Medicaid-covered and Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) social service appointments. 

What you need to know

Find answers to your questions as a provider or an interpreter.

As a provider, you are required to provide interpretive services to any client that:

  • Experiences trouble speaking or understanding English.
  • Is deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing.
  • Has a ProviderOne services card.

Getting ready to request interpreters through Universal

You must register as a new requester with Universal in order for HCA to pay for interpreters for your clients attending Medicaid or DSHS/DCYF social service appointments. 

Integrated managed care (IMC) information

By 2020, IMC will be available in all regions to coordinate physical health, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment services to help provide whole-person care under one health plan. For additional information on IMC and what's coming for providers, view:

In order to be eligible as a Medical or social service interpreter you must be DSHS certified, authorized, or a recognized interpreter. For spoken language, DSHS's Language Testing and Certification (LTC) Program is the certifying authority. For ASL, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) is the certifying authority.

Once you have completed the certification, authorization, or recognized process contact Universal Language Service at to register to accept medical and social services appointments.

Language Testing and Certification (LTC) Program

Per WAC 388-03-160, spoken language interpreters must maintain their certification or authorization status by submitting all of the necessary requirements to the LTC Program by March 30.  If you missed the  deadline refer to the DSHS-LTC  Website for more information about temporary credential reinstatement.

Getting ready to accept HCA jobs through Universal 

You must register as a new interpreter/translator with Universal to continue receiving jobs for Medicaid medical and DSHS and the Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) social service appointments. 

HCA Incident Resolution Process 

In 2014, the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) for Language Access Providers (LAP), the Health Care Authority (HCA), and the then contracted coordinating entity partnered to develop the Incident Resolution Process (IRP) in an effort to ensure high quality language access services to the citizens of Washington State and assure effective management and stewardship of state and federal resources. 

Interpreters are required to read and sign this document and return to the current contractor, Universal Language Services at

Note: Your registration will not be automatic and your documentation will not be transferred from Language Link to Universal. Interpreters must register with Universal and submit all required documents according to the HCA contract requirements. Once registered you can view your portal to determine compliance or what documents may still be required.

In order for HCA to pay for interpreter services, the following criteria must be met:

  • The client is an eligible Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) client.
  • Services are an eligible Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) medical benefit.
  • The health care provider must be an HCA enrolled provider.
  • The request must be made by a DSHS or DCYF staff.
  • Services are authorized and provided under the HCA contractor.

HCA will NOT pay for interpreter services when:

  • The interpreter is a member of the family.
  • Inpatient hospital services.
  • Nursing facility services.
  • Administrative services:
    • Answering or responding to general phone inquiries.
    • Scheduling appointments.
    • Making reminder calls.
    • Filing.
    • Copying.
    • Cleaning.
    • Miscellaneous tasks.

Interpreters provided through HCA's contractor are required to provide services within the scope of practice as defined by the interpreter Code of Ethics. Providers may not ask them to perform non language related tasks.

In-person interpreting

In-person interpreting is most appropriate for complex, sensitive and life-threatening situations.

  • Sharing bad news / worsening health conditions
  • Family conferences
  • Speech therapy / neuropsychologic testing
  • Conscious sedation procedures
  • Hands-on teaching or demonstrations
  • Delicate or complex cultural brokering
  • Medically necessary for specific interpreter request

Family member appointment

When the authorized requester schedules two or more consecutive appointments to see multiple family members.

Block time appointment

When the Department of Social and Health Service (DSHS) schedule an on-site appointment at a DSHS Economic Services Administration Office (ESA). These appointments are for a specific amount of time rather than for a specific patient or client.

Important—upcoming vendor change. HCA is transitioning to a new sign language interpreter vendor contract. This could affect how you schedule an interpreter for your clients in the future. Follow the transition and learn about the changes in advance on our Sign language interpreter contract transition webpage.

What happens if there are no sign language interpreters through Universal?

Universal currently has American sign language (ASL) interpreters who are located in, or willing to travel to, each region of the state. However, there may be circumstances (for instance, due to competing demand) where an interpreter is not available. Accordingly, HCA has set up the following process for receiving information about the fulfillment of ASL interpreter requests and alternatives when no interpreter is available:

  • When you request a job you will have the option to select (yes or no) that you wish to receive notification that Universal has not filled your job yet (job status);
  • If you select “yes,” you will receive notices 24 hours after job is created, 72 hours after job is created, 14 days before the scheduled start time, 3 days before the scheduled start time, and 10 hours before the scheduled start time regarding the status of your request;
  • If an ASL interpreter is not available through Universal at any time after you submit your request, you can procure an interpreter through a private agency and receive reimbursement from HCA up to the approved ODHH contract rate.  If a private contracted sign language interpreter is not established on the ODHH website, the maximum allowable payment is fifty-five dollars ($55) per hour.

Please view our current  ASL service area access map and billing instructions for American Sign Language (ASL) - FAQ  


Program updates

Interpreter services sends updates via our email communications tool, GovDelivery.

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