An Act Requiring Reimbursement for the Costs of Providing Competent Interpreter Services

Joint Committee on on Financial Services

The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), on behalf of our member hospitals, health systems, physician organizations and allied healthcare providers, appreciates the opportunity to submit comments in strong support of HB929, An Act requiring reimbursement for the costs of providing competent interpreter services.

HB929 requires MassHealth, its contractors, and all private insurers to adequately compensate hospitals for the costs of providing interpreter services. The commonwealth’s interpreter services law (Chapter 66 of the Acts of 2000) required the state to reimburse hospitals for interpreter services related to care provided in emergency departments and behavioral health units. However, the reimbursement level was not set to pay for the interpreter services as a separate service. The provision of appropriate interpreter services is essential to the delivery of timely and medically necessary care. Patients in these settings can simultaneously experience several medical and psychological conditions; the added difficulty of communicating to these patients heightens the potential for complications to arise. Also, the lack of available medically certified interpreters who can assist in these settings results in hospitals having to pay higher rates – higher than the national or state average for payment—just to access this important resource. HB929 would provide necessary support for this critical element of care by ensuring that hospitals are paid for interpreter services as a separate and distinct service. This important bill would facilitate the ability for hospitals to best deliver safe and effective care, to all patients.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony on this matter. If you have any questions regarding this testimony, or require further information, please contact Michael Sroczynski, MHA's Senior Vice President of Government Advocacy at (781) 262-6055 or msroczynski@mhalink.org