March 10, 2010

QUICK UPDATE: Senate concurs with House, sends Interpreters collective bargaining bill to Governor

The Senate Tuesday afternoon concurred with the House’s changes to the Federation-initiated state interpreters collective bargaining bill.

The Senate vote was 29-19 with one excused. ESSB 6726 now goes to the governor for her signature into law.

Senate supporters said the bill was about reforming a system where middlemen suck up most of the program’s money before it ever reaches the interpreters themselves. The interpreters help patients from a wide range of language backgrounds communicate with their doctors on Medicaid-covered issues.

“We have learned that under the current system we’re paying more than $50 an hour for medical interpreter services but the interpreter is getting about $20 of that $50 an hour,” said Sen. Karen Keiser of the 33rd District. “The rest is being spent on third-party brokers and agency fees—middlemen—and it’s an inefficient, time-wasting and money-wasting approach….”

“When we are underpaying our interpreters, we are undercutting the whole system. This approach will resolve that problem.”

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