Excerpt from an article at New York Times:
In Washington, legal residents with limited or no English proficiency are able to get health-care coverage through the Medicaid program. With that coverage comes interpreter services for the patient. However, if the current version of the governor’s budget passes, interpreter services will be cut, having a devastating impact on the care of Medicaid patients, not to mention an increased cost to taxpayers.
Interpreters are a necessary part of the care team for patients with limited English-speaking skills.
Without the help of an interpreter, a patient must struggle to find a friend or perhaps one of their children to interpret on their behalf, which can result in serious harm. Medical interpreters have added training in health care. The physician and the patient rely on interpreters, not only to translate a patient’s symptoms but to translate complicated medical instructions and assist in providing informed consent for medical procedures.
It is estimated that more than 150,000 patients will be impacted if these crucial services are eliminated. According to the Department of Social and Health Services, in 2009, 43 percent of all interpreter services were provided to children and pregnant women.