ATA has written the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to urge the agency to address access for individuals speaking languages of lesser diffusion as it works to comply with the state’s House Bill 2359. The legislation, also known as the Health Care Interpretation Accountability Act, was passed by the Oregon House of Representatives in 2021. It requires health care providers to hire only credentialed interpreters vetted and registered by OHA.
The goal of HB 2359 is to ensure that patients have access to competent interpreters, but as ATA pointed out in its letter to OHA, there are few avenues to certification or qualification for interpreters working in languages outside the mainstream. For example, Mexico has 60+ recognized languages other than Spanish, and there are 300+ distinct languages spoken throughout mainland China. The proposed rules set forth in HB 2359 do not take into account the lack of credentialing in these languages. They also do not consider that interpreting in communities with less commonly used languages is often conducted via relay interpreting. ATA is concerned that HB 2359 may create new barriers to language access for some Oregon residents.
ATA encouraged OHA to modify its implementation of HB 2359 to accept proficiency equivalents for relay interpreters and to establish alternative pathways for interpreters to demonstrate proficiency in languages of lesser diffusion.
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