Who is Universal Language Service?
Universal Language Service (Universal) is the contractor that provides interpreter services to Washington State Medicaid eligible clients for Healthcare appointments and Social Service appointments for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and Department of Children, Youth and Family (DCYF) offices.
How do I request interpreters?
In order to request an interpreter through the HCA contractor, you must register with Universal’s online scheduling platform.
Once you are registered, Universal will email your login information to you along with a link to the Customer User Guide that will help you navigate the site.
The HCA Interpreter Services program is available to healthcare providers serving limited English proficient (LEP), and individuals applying for or receiving Medicaid, DSHS or DCYF services. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I request Family Member/Sibling Appointments?
Requests for Family Member Appointments are submitted online via Universal Language’s online platform. Please see the Customer User Guide for detailed instructions on how to submit this type of appointment.
Do I have to use Universal?
No. However, if you use a private contractor, you will be solely responsible for the cost of interpreter services.
What if Universal cannot provide an interpreter?
Per the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VI, which states: providers receiving federal funds, are required to assure language access to limited English speaking recipients. If Universal is unable to provide an interpreter, you are required to provide this assistance at your own cost.
How do I find an interpreter on my own?
If you are unable to locate an agency or interpreter on your own, you can access multiple Department of Enterprise Services (DES) language contractors throughout Washington State.
However, you will be required to pay for these contractors directly. HCA will not reimburse you for services accessed through DES language contracts or private contractors/agencies.
An exception to this process is for Behavior Health appointments, see How do I get reimbursed for Behavior Health (BH) services.
How do I know if the interpreter is qualified?
HCA requires Universal to provide DSHS certified, authorized, or recognized Language Access Providers (LAP)’s.
For more information regarding certification visit the DSHS website for details about the certifications.
What is the Collective Bargaining Agreement?
In 2011, The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was established between spoken language access provider (LAP) interpreters and the Governor of Washington to ensure equal access to pay, professional development, union management meetings and grievances. The CBA was determined to be the contract that DSHS, DCYF and HCA will comply with when providing services to Medicaid DSHS and DCYF LEP clients utilizing LAPs.
For more information about the CBA, you can review the document on the OFM website, WFSE Language Access Providers.
Does Universal provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters?
No, Universal no longer provides Sign interpreters for HCA Medicaid jobs. Visit HCA Sign language interpreters for more information.
How do I get reimbursed for Behavior Health (BH) services?
Behavior Health services are eligible for reimbursement by HCA in the event that Universal is unable to provide an interpreter for Medicaid eligible clients. These services include Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder. HCA will reimburse services at the current CBA rate; you are responsible for the remainder balance.
To receive reimbursement, you must submit the following documents to Universal:
- Copy of the paid invoice
- Job number from Universal with an “Unable to Fill” or “Interpreter Not Found In Time” status
- Completed HCA Reimbursement Voucher Form (Download)
Once the claim is processed, Universal will reimburse the provider up to the approved CBA rates. For more information, contact email@example.com.
For additional information on Behavioral Health reimbursement from HCA, please see: Behavioral Health guide
Can I request an interpreter with a short notice?
Yes. However, it is best to request an interpreter in advance to allow interpreters the opportunity to review their schedule. Universal cannot guarantee a last-minute request will be filled.
What is a National Provider Identification (NPI)?
A NPI is a unique 10-digit identifier issued to health care providers in the United States by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
It is required to file all insurance claims, including Medicaid reimbursement, and is a requirement for any provider of medical or social service encounters. For more information, visit National Plan & Provider Enumeration System.
Home health care coordinators who need an NPI to submit interpreter requests should ask their Care Coordination Organization (CCO), which NPI is appropriate to use.
How do I submit a complaint about an interpreter?
Feedback regarding interpreter performance can be submitted on the Universal scheduling platform, directly from the interpreter request (job). Universal’s WeCare Program can be reached at WeCare@ULSonline.net.
What are Non-Covered Services?
HCA does not pay for interpreter services for:
- Administrative work
- Scheduling appointments
- Appointment reminder phone calls
- Inpatient hospital services
- Nursing facility services
Providers are responsible for providing these services at their own cost.
Who can use the HCA Interpreter Services program?
The HCA Interpreter Services program is available to health care providers serving Limited English Proficient (LEP) Medicaid clients and individuals applying for or receiving DSHS benefits.
Are we legally responsible for providing interpreters?
Yes! In order to be in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, interpreters must be provided for any client that has difficulty speaking or understanding English.
My organization already has an existing account with Universal. Do we still need to register?
Yes, we need to have an Authorized Requester from your organization register before we start accepting HCA interpreter requests from you. Our scheduling platform and user interface will be updated to allow you to enter HCA / DSHS / DCYF jobs under this contract. Please look for email confirmation that your account has been approved for this contract. This confirmation will indicate that you are ready to begin requesting jobs under this contract.
In what situations can a specific interpreter be requested?
- Gender preference
- Cultural requirements
- Medical conditions that qualify as medically necessary
What is considered medically necessary when requesting specific interpreters?
- Continuing counseling sessions
- Applied Behavior Analysis therapy sessions
- Cancer treatments as requested by the medical provider
- Pediatric Private Duty Nursing sessions in the home setting, in which the treatment plan requires frequent communication, such as when the child’s care needs are changing, where a change in Interpreter will impact the health outcome or effectiveness of the interaction
- Continuity of Care for treatment plan or any treatment or medical procedure where a change in interpreter will impact the effectiveness and efficacy of the treatment or procedure
What happens if I forget to check an interpreter in / out for a job?
We will send you a reminder in the event you forget to enter a start or end time for a job that has passed. You will have 14 days to enter service start and end times for that job. If no times are provided, the scheduled start / end time or the alternate time(s) provided by the interpreter will be accepted. It is very important for requesters to enter start and end time(s) for all jobs to ensure interpreters are paid correctly for their services, and to help ensure all Interpreter No Shows are properly reported.
What if two interpreters arrive for the same job?
Call Universal’s Scheduling Department so we can check to see which interpreter was scheduled first, and that interpreter will stay to provide services.
What type of job should I choose?
- HCA Medical should be selected for medical services.
- HCA-DSHS should be selected for social services by DSHS departments, divisions, and agency staff for individual appointments.
- HCA-DCYF should be selected for social services by DCYF department staff.
- HCA-DSHS / HCA-DCYF Block Time should be selected when requesting an interpreter for a specific time period (not a specific appointment or client), for a minimum of two hours, to meet the needs of several Social Service clients that speak the same language.
I have submitted an HCA registration request. When will I receive my login/user account?
After we create your account(s) we will create your personal user profile and send an email prompting you to create your personal password and at that point you can log in. For medical providers, there will be an additional step of verifying your National Provider Identifier (NPI) prior to sending the email prompting you to create a password.
Why am I not able to see certain screens?
Please make sure you are using an up-to-date, supported browser to ensure all screens load properly.
Universal’s scheduling platform is supported with Google Chrome™, Apple® Safari® version 10.x on Mac OS X, the most recent stable versions of Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla® Firefox®.
- For Mac OS users on Apple Safari or Chrome, make sure the system setting ‘Show scroll bars’ is set to “Always”
How do I order phone interpretation?
Over the Phone Interpretation (OPI) is not currently available under the HCA contract with Universal.
How do I add additional locations and users to my account?
Please complete the HCA Registration form noting that you have an existing account with Universal. Under ‘Additional Locations, Departments, Divisions’, there will be a section to add additional users.
Some staff at my facility already have user accounts, but I don’t. Can I still request an interpreter?
Please make sure that you complete the HCA Registration form (link) so that we can work on issuing your login information. While you wait, you may reach out to our Scheduling Department directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to request interpreter services.
Do you have a user guide?
Click here to access the current platform user guide. Check back regularly, as this guide will be updated significantly in the coming weeks.
What is my password?
As a security measure, Universal does not store user passwords in our database. If you have forgotten your password, there is a link at the bottom of the login window that says ‘Forgot your password?’ Click this link and follow the prompts to reset your password.