September 2, 1998
Dear Ms. xxxx:
Senator Barbara Boxer has asked us to respond to your letter about private health care insurers and the costs associated with interpreter services required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Please excuse our delay in responding.
On April 27, 1998, we replied to your similar inquiry made through Senator Dianne Feinstein's office (enclosure 1). We commented that the ADA does not expressly require a medical insurer to reimburse health care providers for all expenses incurred by an individual with a disability. We also provided information about congressional initiatives in the form of tax relief for public accommodations, including medical care providers, for providing patient interpreter services under the ADA. The ADA's title III regulation, furthermore, provides for flexibility in the methods that practitioners can use to effectively communicate with patients with disabilities who require auxiliary aids to obtain services.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also addressed the same issues in Mr. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx March 31, 1998, letter to you. Like HHS, our Department has not targeted medical care service providers for failing to provide sign language interpreters. We likewise have been handling title III complaints presented to us on an individual basis.
We believe that the consideration of any other initiatives with respect to medical insurer reimbursable medical expenses is more appropriate for the Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA), which administers the Medicare/Medicaid programs and researches and monitors issues with respect to health care. Inquiries to HCFA may be addressed to:
Ms. Nancy-Ann Min DeParle
Health Care Financing Administration
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850
Telephone (410) 786-3000
I hope that you find this information useful and responsive to your concerns.
John L. Wodatch
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
cc: The Honorable Barbara Boxer>