Extension of Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) for spoken languages temporarily available during COVID-19 pandemic

Dental Medicaid

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Extension of Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) for spoken languages temporarily available during COVID-19 pandemic

Please read the following information from HCA: 

Due to the Governor's Stay Home, Stay Healthy order extension through May 31, 2020, HCA will not allow in-person interpretation during the Governor's order. OPI will continue to be available effective for dates of service on or after April 16, 2020.

Universal Language (Universal) will convert all prescheduled in-person requests to OPI with dates of service occurring during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Requests may remain scheduled as OPI for up to two weeks beyond the order as accounts and jobs are updated to revert back to in-person interpreting. Additional dates of service may be converted should the order be extended and/or ongoing precautions continue to be needed. HCA will notify you through GovDelivery if this occurs.

Exceptions to this policy can be made when determined to be medically necessary or when the provider facilitates a video appointment.

What to expect

You will receive notifications from Universal when your existing requests are converted to OPI. Interpreters who do not wish to perform OPI will give the request back, making it available for another interpreter to accept. You will receive notifications from Universal when the status of a request changes, as you do now. 

If you included a video ink in the "interpreter notes" field, your request will not be converted and the interpreter will complete the appointment by joining your video link.

How to submit a request for OPI

During the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, all requester accounts will be enabled for OPI, after which you can begin using the service immediately by logging into the Universal scheduling portal. Submitting a request for an OPI interpreter is completed the same way you currently request in-person interpreters.

You will log into the Universal scheduling portal and create a new interpreter request. The only difference is that you will only be able to select "Phone Pre-Scheduled" from the drop down menu in the 'Type of Service' field.

How does an OPI request work?

At the time of the appointment, the provider will call Universal whose agents will then connect the provider and the interpreter together. If the appointment is for telehealth and the client is remote, Universal will connect the provider, interpreter, and client.

How do I check interpreters in/out for an OPI request?

You will complete the check in and check out process just like you do now for in-person requests. You must:

  1. Log into the Universal scheduling portal
  2. Open the request
  3. Click the "edit" button in the upper right-hand corner
  4. Complete 'Actual Start' and 'Actual End' times

What is the exception policy?

HCA will continue to allow providers to request interpreters to participate in video based, remote interpretation. To use this option, you will schedule an in-person interpreter as normal, and you must add the video link to the "interpreter notes" field.

HCA will allow in-person interpreters when the healthcare provider determines it is medically necessary to support the client's care. The healthcare provider is required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control measures for the interpreter. To use this option, you will schedule an in-person interpreter and add a description of the PPE and infection control measures to the "interpreter notes" field.

Interpreters are not required to complete video or in-person appointments and they may give the appointment back. If the appointment cannot be filled, HCA recommends you cancel the request and submit a new one for an OPI interpreter.

Review the exception policy for more details.

Medicaid Transition to Managed Care Cancelled

The 2019 Legislature has directed the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) to continue to administer the dental Medicaid program through fee-for-service. The HCA may not proceed with a carved-out or carved-in managed care dental option at this time.

Learn More

Questions? Please email info@wsda.org.