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ACA Section 1557 – What Your Hospital Needs to Know

ACA Section 1557 – What Your Hospital Needs to Know

QUESTION

According to ACA Section 1557 organizations will be required to post notices of nondiscrimination as of October 17, 2016.  Can you provide more information about this?

ANSWER

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities. The final rule clarifies and codifies existing nondiscrimination requirements and sets forth new standards to implement Section 1557, particularly with respect to the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex in health programs other than those provided by educational institutions and the prohibition of various forms of discrimination in health programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS or the Department) and entities established under Title I of the ACA.

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.

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

Beginning on October 17, 2016 covered entities are required to post Notices of Nondiscrimination and taglines that inform individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) that language translation services are available. Taglines must be posted in at least the top 15 non-English languages spoken in the State in which the entity is located or does business.

Note: For small sized significant communications such as postcards a nondiscrimination statement and taglines must be in at least the top two non-English languages spoken by individuals with limited English proficiency in the State.

HHS has several translated resources available to assist covered entities with this requirement. The US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has released additional resources to assist providers as they move to implement the requirements for the Affordable Care Act Section 1557 which include:

  • Frequently Asked Questions that address how OCR developed their list of the top 15 language spoken by individuals with limited English Language proficiency.
  • A table with the top 15 languages spoken by individuals with limited English language proficiencyin each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and each U.S. Territory.

 

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