L&I’s decentralized scheduling relying on dozens of language agencies and a couple hundred interpreters who bill L&I directly doesn’t track requests or fill rates resulting in injured workers not receiving the necessary treatment. Read here the US Department of Justice investigation and the agreement reached.
L&I’s Interpreter Services has long been plagued by fraud and misconduct. A 2011 report by the State Auditor found numerous billing problems. Some fraud cases have been reported in the news. A 2012 public disclosure request —953 pages long— showed numerous instances of the following:
- Cancelling or rescheduling patients’ appointments to benefit the interpreter’s schedule
- Billing for services not rendered or rendered by others
- Advising patients to request pain management treatments because they require lengthy and frequent appointments
- Advocating for the injured worker
- Redirecting patients to other healthcare providers
- Sending uncertified interpreters
- Giving legal or medical advice
- Driving patients to their appointments
- Paying or giving gifts to healthcare providers for access to patients
In 2018, the Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 6245 to improve state programs by reforming the procurement of interpreter services and grant freelance interpreters the right to unionize. Read more about the bill here
In its latest Interpreter Quality Assurance Status Report, L&I admits its frequent inability to take action when addressing complaints against interpreters because key information is not being systematically collected. L&I anticipates this will be greatly improved with the new scheduling system.
In its December 2020 report to the Legislature, L&I lists several examples of interpreters not abiding by WAC 388-03-050. With L&I's new scheduling system, only properly credentialed interpreters will be able to receive requests. The centralization of requests, invoices, and payment processing will curb fraud by giving L&I more control over interpreters.