The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has posted draft interpreter fee schedule regulations to the online forum where members of the public may review and comment on the proposals. The draft regulations include:
1) A new fee structure. The fee structure is based upon a number of factors including whether the interpreter is certified, the language to be interpreted, and the forum where the interpreting occurs. The base rate for a certified Spanish interpreter is derived from the Federal Court rate. Higher rates are paid for certified interpreters of other languages. Lower rates are paid to provisional and non-certified interpreters.
2) Establishes objective, uniform rates resulting in faster bill payment without liens and protracted litigation. Independent bill review procedure will resolve residual disputes.
3) Emphasis on a qualified interpreter. The regulations require use of certified interpreters in all forums wherever possible, with restrictions on use of provisionally certified interpreters. This is to guarantee the injured worker is provided with a qualified interpreter.
4) Detailed billing information and billing codes. The regulations require interpreters to provide detailed billing information, and set forth specific billing codes, to be compensated. The billing information and codes require the interpreter to identify the event billed, the time charged, the language, and qualifications of the interpreter, in addition to other information specific to the particular situation.
5) Selection and arrangement of interpreters. The regulations provide clarity on the selection of, and arrangement for interpreters.
The proposed regulations require that the notice of hearing, deposition, medical-legal exam, or other setting shall include a statement explaining the right to have a qualified interpreter present if the injured worker does not proficiently speak or understand the English language. Where a party is designated to serve a notice, it shall be the responsibility of that party to include this statement in the notice. It shall be the obligation of the party or individual needing interpreter services to communicate the need for an interpreter to the claims administrator as soon as the need becomes known.
The fees for Spanish language certified interpreter for hearings and depositions are $210 for each half-day of service and $388 for each full-day of service. For a certified interpreter for hearings and depositions in all languages other than Spanish the fees are $240 for each half-day of service, and $418 for each full-day of service. “Half-day” means all or any part of a morning or afternoon session, when appearing at any Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board hearing, day-time arbitration, or when appearing at a deposition, all or any part of 3.5 hours, or when appearing at an evening arbitration, all or any part of 3 hours. “Full-day” means services performed which exceed one-half day, up to 8 hours.
However, the employer may negotiate for an agreed upon rate with an interpreter since the proposed regulations provide “Nothing in this section precludes an agreement for payment of interpreter services, made between the interpreter or agency for interpreting services and the claims administrator, regardless of whether or not such payment is less than, or exceeds, the fees set forth in this section.”
All interpreters who provide interpreter services at medical-legal exams shall include with the bill, a signed statement from the examining physician verifying time spent providing interpreter services beyond two hours. All interpreters at medical treatment appointments shall include with the bill, a signed statement from the treating physician verifying time spent providing interpreter services beyond one hour. Proof of certification may be requested by the claims administrator and shall be provided by the certified interpreter for the purposes of hearings and depositions if the interpreter is not listed on the State Personnel Board webpage.Proof of certification may be requested by the claims administrator and shall be provided by the certified interpreter for the purposes of medical treatment appointments and medical-legal exams if the interpreter is not listed in the CCHI or National Board website directory.
The forum can be found online on the DWC forums web page. Comments will be accepted on the forum until 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, 2015.