MN Health Care Interpreter Roster Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the Minnesota Department of Health create a Roster of spoken language interpreters?

To address access to health care services, particularly in rural areas, the 2008 Legislature passed the Interpreter Services Quality Initiative. Minn. Stat. §144.058 requires the Commissioner to establish a voluntary statewide roster.

What is the Roster?

The Roster lists spoken languages, persons available to interpret those languages, health care subjects and specialty health care settings. By using a search tool in the Roster, anyone can view a list of persons available to interpret a language spoken by a patient in a health care setting.

Who is on the Health Care Interpreter Roster?

Everyone who applies by completing an application and paying the fee will be included on the Roster. At this time, there are no qualifications required to be on the Roster. The Roster does not include interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing. In Minnesota, the Department of Human Services coordinates sign language interpreters.

Interpreters on the health care roster may include persons also listed on the court system's roster and on the Department of Education roster. Information about other interpreters on these rosters may be found by clicking on the links under "Interpreters" in the left column.

What qualifications do interpreters on the Roster have?

Persons on the Roster have varying levels of qualifications. Currently, there is no "certification" available in Minnesota for health care interpreters. At least two organizations provide national certification; however, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) does not require that an interpreter be certified by these organizations in order to be on the MDH Roster. National Certification organizations include: National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters and Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters

Is interpreter information on the Roster verified?

No. Currently none of the information is verified. References and background checks are the responsibility of the person employing the interpreter.

Who sets interpreter payment and makes transportation arrangements?

Payment and transportation of the interpreter are the responsibility of the person employing or hiring the interpreter, unless otherwise provided by law.

Are interpreters required to be on the Roster?

No. Health care interpreters in Minnesota are not required to be listed on the Roster in order to interpret in Minnesota. However, beginning January 1, 2011, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare will no longer cover face-to-face oral language interpreter services if the interpreter is not listed on the Roster (MN Stat. 256B.0625; see Subd. 18a).

The community of health care providers and the Minnesota Department of Health strongly encourage all interpreters to apply to be listed on the Roster. Consider these reasons. The Roster:

  • Is a single source accessible to everyone for finding available spoken language health care interpreters.
  • Provides quick access to interpreting resources in the event of a public health or personal emergency.
  • Helps health care providers in Greater Minnesota find interpreters for rural residents.
  • Helps persons speaking languages not commonly found in Minnesota by assisting the health care provider in finding an interpreter.
  • Provides access to information about professional opportunities including:
    • training
    • networking
    • employment
  • Finally, providers may give preference to interpreters on the Roster.

Why is there a $50 annual fee to be on the Roster?

The annual fee is required by the Legislature to pay the costs of creating and maintaining the Healthcare Interpreter Roster and the web site and the application process to be on the Roster.

The fee is non-refundable and covers a 12 month period beginning on the date interpreter searches can be done or the date payment is received, whichever is later.

If I have a complaint about a healthcare interpreter will the Department investigate the complaint?

No. Currently MDH has no statutory authority to investigate complaints. However, the Department may refer complaints to other persons or agencies as authorized by provisions of Data Privacy Law. The Department may also post general information about expected behavior on the website or make other efforts to educate interpreters, agencies, health care providers, and patients.

Updated Tuesday, 15-Apr-2014 15:16:42 CDT