The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the Final Rule implementing the prohibition of discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. The Final Rule, Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities, will help to advance equity and reduce health disparities by protecting some of the populations that have been most vulnerable to discrimination in the health care context. The final rule explains consumers’ rights under the law and provides covered entities important guidance about their obligations.
Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.
Section 1557 builds on long-standing and familiar Federal civil rights laws: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (Age Act). Most notably, Section 1557 is the first Federal civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in all health programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance.
Section 1557 has been in effect since enactment of the ACA in 2010 and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been enforcing the provision since it was enacted.
Coverage of the Rule
The rule covers:
– Any health program or activity, any part of which receives funding from HHS (such as hospitals that accept Medicare or doctors who accept Medicaid);
– Any health program that HHS itself administers;
– Health Insurance Marketplaces and issuers that participate in those Marketplaces.
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