Programs & services

Interpreter services (providers)

Providers are required to ensure spoken and sign language access according to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 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: sign language (SL) 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.  

See our Sign language interpreter contract transition webpage for more details including:

  • Webinars for an overview of the new process
  • Webinars for step by step technical assistance on the new process
  • Rapid response calls to discuss issues and concerns

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, DeafBlind, 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. 

Behavioral health information

By 2020, behavioral health 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 these changes 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 interpreter@ulsonline.net 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 interpreter@ulsonline.net.

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.

Providers: The new process for requesting sign language interpreters is live.​ All requests for sign language interpreters are processed through ProviderOne. ​

What does this mean for me? 

You will submit your requests using the ProviderOne portal.

  • Submit your request using the "On-Line Prior Authorization Submission" process​​ in Provider One.
    • Select the Organizational Unit type: 530-PA Sign Language
  • Attach a completed DSHS Request for Sign Language Interpreter form​ (DSHS 17-123A). This is required.

View the Prior authorization webpage for more information about:

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

Interpreters: All assignments for Medicaid clients will be managed through the existing “state contract” that is managed by the DSHS Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. However, payments are processed differently, they are paid through ProviderOne.

You will receive assignments in the same fashion you do now. The current DSHS Request for Sign Language Interpreter form will be used. Once you accept the assignment, the healthcare provider will be notified and you will attend the appointment and complete the job.

You will receive payment differently. To receive payment for Medicaid assignments, you must enroll with ProviderOne and be able to submit your bill using the ProviderOne portal. Payments are issued every Friday and are automatically deposited into your bank account. For more information view the ProviderOne application for ODHH contractors FAQ.

Resources

Program updates

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

Past notifications are available to view through our RSS feed.

Report suspected Medicaid fraud

Call 1-800-562-6906 or send us an email at HotTips@hca.wa.gov

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Contact

For any questions regarding interpreter services or the content on this page:

Email: interpretersvcs@hca.wa.gov