DSHS/HCA – CTS CONTRACT PERFORMANCE
Print Icon Apr 03, 2017

There is probably no interpreting services contract that has ever been subject to so much public scrutiny. Before each collective bargaining cycle, Interpreters United requests from the state detailed information that is delivered electronically in huge databases. It takes many days to analyze and summarize the results so that bargaining team members can negotiate based on facts instead of perceptions. Proposals made at the bargaining table made by both the state and the union are also subject to public disclosure.

Interpreter Quality: DSHS/HCA-CTS contract includes complaint and corrective action policies for dealing with interpreters who have complaints made of them or violate WAC 388-03-050. The complaint process was implemented on April 1, 2014. In a 2-year period, the complaint rate was less than 2% with less than 1% of those complaints warranting corrective action. All interpreters rendering services under this contract have undergone competency based assessments. The vast majority of interpreters are DSHS certified/authorized and the rest are either court certified/registered or nationally certified by CCHI or NBCMI.

Cost Effectiveness: From a purely fiscal point of view, the procurement reform in the Medicaid interpreter services program is an unqualified success.

Administrative Cost
(Language Company)

Service Cost
(Interpreter Pay)

Average interpreter

hourly rate

Average paid by State per appointment (all inclusive)

Appointments

paid

SFY 2010

38%

62%

$21.50*

$57.50

199,761**

SFY 2016

9%

91%

$37.28***

$47.97

327,737

SFY 2010 data from Department of Social and Health Services Fact Sheet for the Legislature on Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6726

SFY 2016 data from Health Care Authority Medicaid Interpreter Services Report, Paid Interpreter Services http://www.hca.wa.gov/medicaid/interpreterservices/pages/index.aspx

* Plus some mileage

** HCA RFP-K559 - Interpreter Services RFP Exhibit I - Information and Data on Languages 2011

*** No mileage. Rate negotiated through collective bargaining.

Fill Rates: In SFY 2015, the overall statewide filled rate for all languages and counties was 91%. Unsurprisingly, King County has the highest demand for interpreting services. There is some variability in the filled rates among the counties but it is not significant enough to indicate that there is a serious problem from a geographical point of view. The contract appears to work extremely well for languages of high demand and very badly for languages of low demand. Languages of low demand, however, represented only 3% of all requests in SFY2015.

SFY 2015 Medicaid & DSHS

Jul 1 2014 - Jun 30 2015

Total
Requests

Average
Filled Rate

% of Total
Requests

HIGH DEMAND

>2000 requests/m

Spanish Russian Vietnamese

272,900

96%

73%

MEDIUM DEMAND

2000 <> 100 request/m

89,047

75%

24%

LOW DEMAND

< 100 requests/m

12,668

10%

3%

TOTAL

374,615

91%

100%

Not all languages are equal: From a language access management point of view, languages can be classified in two ways: by diffusion and by demand. For example, Vietnamese is a language of limited diffusion because it is the official language of one small country (Vietnam) with about 75K inhabitants. Portuguese, on the other hand, is a language of great diffusion because it is spoken in several countries, in several continents and by a large population (215M). In WA State, however, Vietnamese is a language of high demand averaging more than 2,000 requests per month while Portuguese is a language of low demand averaging less than 50 requests per month. Accordingly, the filled rate for Vietnamese in SFY2015 was 93% while for Portuguese it was only 73%.

The Interpreting Services Marketplace: At its core, interpreters are vendors selling their services to buyers such as clinics, hospitals, schools, courts, etc. Language access managers should take under consideration basic market laws when procuring interpreting services.

DEMAND

SUPPLY

High # of requests

Low # of requests

High # of interpreters

COMPETITIVE MARKET

BUYER’S MARKET

Low # of interpreters

SELLER’S MARKET

NO MARKET

Union-Management Communications Committee: Article 8 of our collective bargaining agreement, established this committee “for the purpose of maintaining communications between the Union and the State in order to cooperatively discuss matters of mutual concern, including but not limited to: implementation of this Agreement and proposed initiatives, rules or policies”. The state and the union meet regularly at mutually convenient times to discuss the contract’s performance. Ad hoc UMC committees may be established to deal with very specific issues. On January 2016, Interpreters United presented a detailed report expressing some concerns and offering solutions to the problems uncovered. Read it here.


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