Why does the Health Care Interpreter law matter to Health Care interpreters?

First, here is a link to the bill. But it looks strange. Here is a key to its formatting. We’ll format some of the sections below this way to highlight the changes in the law.
[Text in square brackets is being removed]
Bold text is being added.
Normal text stays the same.

Here is a sample letter you can submit… but check this post on how to submit testimony for context!
sample-testimony-letter-for-interpreters-rtf feb 5 2015
Please note that this letter was updated to reflect last minute negotiations based on the sample letter we had published here before. We have removed that letter from this post to avoid confusion.
This is the result of advocacy!

Section 1.
[Old: Health care interpreter is…]
Suggested: Certified health care interpreter is…
Qualified health care interpreter is…

What do we think? We like the emphasis on certification and qualification!

Section 2. – We support these changes!
Adding a paragraph requiring the use of certified of qualified health care interpreters wherever possible is a great move! OK, so there’s only 150 or so of us right now, at least on the OHA list. If they can remove a few of the most difficult barriers, then that number might grow. When we have enough Certified and Qualified interpreters to affect the market, then we can probably negotiate higher rates, make a living… and grow as professionals. But really, this would help the people of Oregon be served by professionals who can afford to be available to serve them, which is a great thing!
Prioritizing working with professionals with credentials is a great first step. As more of us are certified and qualified, that will become more and more significant. The goal, as the law says, is “to ensure the accurate and adequate provision of health care to persons with limited English proficiency.”
We should support this!
By the way, are already looking for people with these qualifications for full time positions.

Section 3. – Formatted the way the law is formatted for easy understanding
Reconstitution of the Oregon Council on Health Care Interpreters.
[25 members]
15 members
[Appointed by the Governor]
Appointed by the Director of the Oregon Health Authority
[They came from 18 different groups! Almost impossible to recruit from many of them.]
They come from five groups, and no numbers are given for how many from which groups. All of them are from groups connected to interpreting!
Question from OSTI: What if 51% of the members of the new Council were practicing medical interpreters? This could be powerful!

Section 4.
Now, instead of just coordinating with other states, the OHA can also coordinate with the federal government and other professional organizations to work on educational and testing programs.
The nationally recognized certifications for translation and medical interpretation are, in fact, developed by professional organizations, so this is a great move forward.

Section 5. – here is the section with the most comments for improvement
Now… here is where the interpreters need to provide some expertise cleaning things up. This bill requires cleanup. It is, actually a housekeeping bill! The OHA administrators can do administrative cleanup. We can contribute our part and provide cleanup from our perspective as professionals. We can work together and provide better service to our community.

The key points we at OSTI have identified are some terminology issues that matter because they reflect what we do. We have also identified some issues that simply don’t reflect the reality of how our profession works today.

February 5 update:
The OHA responded to our requests. Please see this update.

Here is a sample letter you can use as a source of inspiration to write your testimony.
sample-testimony-letter-for-interpreters-rtf feb 5 2015

Also, read these other blog posts for background on the issues about the Health Care Interpreting Law:
How to submit testimony
Public Hearing on HB 2419

The next post will be about meeting with you all at a restaurant in Salem at 11 a.m. on Friday to prepare. Watch this blog for updates. See you there! The LEP community of Oregon needs us.