Providers and Hospitals Prohibited Against Discrimination

Providers and Hospitals Prohibited Against Discrimination and Expected to Provide Language Assistance to those with Limited English Proficiencies

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in May of this year released its final rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. This Section prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities receiving funding from HHS (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid, and Health Insurance Marketplace participants).

This final rule incorporates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. It does not, however, specify whether Section 1557 prohibits against discrimination re sexual orientation; but it is worth noting that HHS prohibits such discrimination “as a matter of policy.” Covered entity under this final rule (not to be confused with HIPAA’s “covered entity”) are also required to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to those individuals with limited English proficiency (e.g., provide oral and written translations).

Hospitals and providers are required to be in full compliance by October 16, 2016. Please note there is a private right of action (including class action) under this Section 1557.

You can find the final rule here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-05-18/pdf/2016-11458.pdf

HHS’ policy on Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons is here: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2010/12/14/hhsrevisedlepguidance_0.pdf

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