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HHS Issues Final Rule on Nondiscrimination in Healthcare

On May 13, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. HHS has prepared a summary of the final rule (with factsheets on key provisions posted at http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557). LeadingAge has also just released its summary of the rule to members.

Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, alongside traditional prohibitions based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities. The rule covers health care providers that receive Medicare, Medicaid and other funding through HHS as well as health insurers offering plans through Health Insurance Marketplaces. It “requires that women be treated equally with men in the health care they receive and also prohibits the denial of health care or health coverage based on an individual’s sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping.”

The rule also requires covered entities:

·        For individuals with disabilities, to make all programs and activities provided through electronic and information technology accessible; to ensure the physical accessibility of newly constructed or altered facilities; and to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services.

·        To take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to each individual with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) eligible to be served or likely to be encountered in their health programs and activities.

·        To have a grievance procedure and a compliance coordinator if they have 15 or more employees.

·        To post notices of nondiscrimination and taglines that alert individuals with LEP to the availability of language assistance services.

·        To post taglines in at least the top 15 non-English languages spoken in the State in which the entity is located or does business.

The effective date of most provisions in the new rule is July 18, 2016, 60 days from its publication, although additional time is provided to come into compliance with the posting requirements and other aspects of the rule. OCR has said that it will “provide covered entities with training materials that will cover the key provisions of the regulation that can be used by entities in conjunction with their own training materials.” These materials will be issued “prior to the effective date.”

Contact: Dan Heim, dheim@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8383, ext. 128