IGA Meets With Destie Overpeck, DWC Admin Director, on Fee Schedule Issues

Last month IGA reps and our lobbyist, Alex Rooker, sat down with Destie Overpeck, Department of Workers’ Comp Administrative Director, and DWC staff to talk about our issues with the proposed Interpreter Fee Schedule.

IGA has been working on a number of high priority issues affecting our profession. This update is regarding the Department of Industrial Relations/Department of Workers’ Compensation and their proposed Interpreter Fee Schedule.

We would like to begin by thanking so many of you for your comments to the DIR regarding the proposed Interpreter Fee Schedule. We know that your emails and ideas have had an impact.

After the proposed Fee Schedule was posted, IGA sat down with Destie Overpeck, the DWC Administrator, and a number of DWC staffers to discuss solutions for the proposed Fee Schedule issues. After more than 2 hours of exploring the issues and possible solutions, we left the DIR/DWC Oakland office feeling like we imparted a lot of information and context that they had been missing. However, it was also clear that we have a major legislative battle ahead and we can only win that battle if we form a united front.

Your comments and your reactions to the fee schedule proposal were quite an eye opener for the DWC. They needed to hear what interpreters had to say and their interest in our point of view stems from a growing understanding that after all their research and consultants, this fee schedule proposal falls far short.

The DWC is trying to come to terms with the fact that what Language Service Providers bill and what interpreters actually get paid are very different. That setting a fee ceiling will not work. That the “market rate” language was critical in that without it the LSP’s will be forced to pay substandard rates. Were this to occur it would cause a ripple effect in the entire WC litigation process, making for severe inconsistencies and substandard interpretations and leading to appeals, costs and delays.

We got into the details of how interpreters work and why the 3.5-hour half day and 8-hour full day won’t work. Why Med-Legal assignments — IMEs and QMEs — need to be based on a three-hour minimum and the full day thereafter…And so on.

We got the definite impression that the DWC are very concerned about interpreting services rendered at the WC boards and at medical treatment appointments, and the practice of one interpreter covering a dozen appearances in one sitting and charging a minimum for each appearance. The word “gouging” was used several times to describe those practices.

We countered that the overwhelming majority of independent interpreters are working in discovery, med legal and other types of assignments where that sort of practice doesn’t happen. Trying to stamp out those practices must not be done at the expense of the great majority of independent contractors and at the cost of derailing the whole WC system.

This meeting was very constructive and it felt like we were taking a step in the right direction. But we have a long way to go still. The solutions may come in the form of new legislation from Sacramento to better define the status of the independent interpreter vis-à-vis the Insurance Companies, the LSPs and the regulators.

We are currently working closely with our lobbyist to plan our course of action so stay tuned for further updates. In the meantime, be prepared to travel with us to Oakland when the DIR holds its public hearing.

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