ACTION ALERT: Oppose Proposed Rules To Weaken Anti-Discrimination Protections in Healthcare

August 5, 2019

Submit comments on proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discriminination protections by August 13th!

The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a proposed rule that would significantly weaken the current rules interpreting Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Section 1557 prohibits health programs or facilities that receive federal funds from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

HHS proposes to make changes to the Section 1557 rules that would, among other things:

  • Limit the health programs and facilities subject to the non-discriminination requirements in Section 1557, including exempting private health insurance;
  • Remove protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people, including based on gender identity and sexual orientation;
  • Weaken requirements that help ensure meaningful access to people with limited English proficiency;
  • Make it more difficult for people to access reproductive services;
  • Remove requirements to provide notices and information about non-discrimination protections and the availability of language assistance services; and
  • Limit the right of individuals to enforce their rights under Section 1557 in court.

The proposed rule also seeks comment on whether HHS should make changes to Section 1557’s accessibility requirements for people with disabilities, including:

  • Removing current requirements for entities with less than 15 employees to provide auxiliary aids and services to people with disabilities accessing care and treatment.
  • Removing current requirements that all covered entities must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards of Accessible Design.
  • Changing the requirement for covered entities to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures when necessary, to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, except if the modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the health program or activity.

The proposed rule would severely weaken all of the ACA’s anti-discrimination protections for everyone, including people with disabilities.  For an analysis of all of the changes proposed to Section 1557, see this Q&A from the National Health Law Program and this explainer from the Consortium on Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) about impacts on people with disabilities.  More information and resources on the proposed rule is here.

The public has until August 13th to submit comments. It is critical that you make your voice heard opposing these rollbacks in the ACA’s anti-discrimination protections.  

How to Submit a Comment

To submit a comment directly to the federal register, click here and follow the instructions on the page.  Here are model comments for disability advocates from CCD.