Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
I was just asked whether a practice can charge a hearing impaired patient for the services of an interpreter if the patient fails to show up for their scheduled appointment.
The answer is that while it is unfair for a hearing impaired patient to cancel their appointment last minute, you may not charge them for the cost of the interpreter. A hearing impaired patient's rights are protected under The American with Disabilities Act, New York Civil Rights Law and New York State Human Rights Law, which all prohibit discrimination by public accommodations against persons with a disability. The statute for Medicare and Medicaid that prevents discrimination against the deaf and hard of hearing by physicians who accept Medicare and Medicaid is Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Because charging a hearing impaired patient for the use of the interpreter should they cancel their appointment constitutes disparate treatment from the remaining patient population, the office would be opening themselves up to liability (professional misconduct claim or potential liability under the
above referenced statutes) by doing so.
For additional information on this topic, contact Jennifer Kirschenbaum at (516)-747-6700 ext. 302 or at Jennifer@Kirschenbaumesq.com.
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