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Killing the Language Companies Kindly

Now let’s look at another way of providing language services.

Washington state is performing a national experiment. For its Medicaid interpreter services, the state has eliminated language companies acting as “language service providers.” Instead, the state issued an RFP to have a single language company act as a vendor—a kind of broker with an online portal where interpreters book themselves for Medicaid appointments.

But the payments go from the state to the interpreters, and the vendor—currently CTS Language Link—acts only as a pass through. The middleman is largely cut out except to provide the online portal, which also issues automated invoices and bills the state.

Fine. Okay. And how has that worked?

A new report from the union of Washington state employees seems to say, “Pretty darn well,” despite hiccoughs. The results:

  • Increased demand for interpreters
  • Increase in interpreters’ hourly rate (from $21.50/hr in 2010 to $38.00/hr in 2017)
  • Lower cost to the state (from $57.50 per appointment in 2010 to $48.66 in 2017)

Problems? Yes. But the union seems happy.

Read the report. It’s riveting.

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Article originally found in INTERSECT weekly update from August 18, 2017.

Related to: Interpreter/Translator News

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