Interperter for the deaf

alexandasia

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Is there a code that I can bill Medicare for having to hire an interperter for an office visit? My provider called and said they have to hire this person for a minimum of 2 hours and the cost isn't cheap. They would have to pay more for the interperter then what Medicare will allow for the office visit.
 

k-jag

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A person who is hearing impaired has rights under the Americans With disabilities Act (ADA) and complaints about violations have been filed with the Department of Justice. You cannot charge for interpreter services. The physician's office has to eat the cost. I know it's not fair, because it will cost you more for an interpreter than you will be able to collect from Medicare but if you violate this law, you can be turned in and fined heavily. There are people who make a living by going around to various businesses specifically looking for ADA violations and suing them or threatening to sue and then settling out of court. Check out this weblink: http://www.cdhh.idaho.gov/documents/access_to_medical.pdf it gives a pretty good overview and directs you to the Department of Justice website and their guide.

Oh, and by the way, it's not just hearing impaired patients that you have to provide interpreters for. If you do business with the government (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) you may have to provide an interpreter in any language for a patient who is not fluent in english and requires or requests it -- at no charge. It's called LEP - Limited English Proficiency. If you don't comply it can be considered a civil rights violation.

Civil Rights Clearance is now a requirement for Medicare participation. See: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/providers/medicare_providers/tamainpage.html

Check out these websites:
http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/lep/index.html
http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/laws/summaryguidance.html
http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/433/lep_booklet.pdf

Hope this helps.
 

alexandasia

Contributor
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My provider knows its the law. That is why they were asking if it is billable - to help with the cost. Thanks for your input :)
 
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