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Tell Gov. Inslee: Restore state’s successful interpreter services

The following is from the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28:

OLYMPIA (July 24, 2018) — For the past six years, the Washington state government has had a successful interpreter services program that provides language access to Medicaid and DSHS Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons. In 2017, the statewide vendor, CTS LanguageLink, processed payments for 385,000 DSHS and HCA-Medicaid appointments at a rate of 7,336 per week on average. Some 1,100 interpreters worked under this program.

But on July 1, 2018, the Health Care Authority’s chosen new vendor, Universal Language Services (ULS), took over the program with disastrous consequences:

► On the first week of July, ULS processed only 1,000 requests compared to a weekly average of 7,000.

► Washington LEP residents are being turned away by state agencies and healthcare providers for lack of interpreters in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 13666.

► Requests for HCA Certified Medicare Interpreters are being diverted to private-sector pay-depriving interpreters, from their collectively bargained living wages — $25/hr instead of $39.76/hr — depriving Medicaid healthcare providers from a free service that encourages their participation in the Medicaid network that gives LEP patients more options to meet their healthcare needs; and depriving DSHS and DCYF from interpreter services at lower cost.

TAKE A STAND — HCA refuses to remedy the crisis promptly so interpreters and their union (WFSE) are urging union members and other community supporters of quality public services to email or call the Governor’s Office at 360-902-4111 are urge Governor Jay Inslee to terminate the contract with ULS and return to CTS immediately!

ALSO — HCA has arranged a meeting with ULS officials on Thursday, July 25 in Olympia. This is an important opportunity for interpreters and their supporters to make their voices heard! Join them as they rally at 8:15 a.m. outside the HCA building, 626 8th Ave. in Olympia (corner of Cherry & 8th). The HCA-ULS meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m.

For more information, please contact Interpreters United / WFSE Local 1671 at

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