Under new federal regulations, issued in May 2016 with an initial compliance deadline of July 16, 2016, it is now illegal for any healthcare provider that receives federal funding from HHS to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, age and disability. While many healthcare providers already have in place general nondiscrimination policies, it is important to point out that: (1) Section 1557 is the first federal civil rights law to broadly prohibit healthcare providers (e.g., certain physician practices, hospitals and health insurers) from discriminating on the basis of gender, gender identity, pregnancy and sex stereotyping; and (2) it will require covered providers to comply with a whole host of new requirements, including appointing a Section 1557 compliance coordinator, adopting a grievance procedure and providing notices. Notices must be in place by mid-October in order to be in full compliance. Section 1557 also will require the entities take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to healthcare services to individuals with limited English proficiency and to individuals with disabilities.
Healthcare providers, physician practices and health insurers should all familiarize themselves with the new regulations under Section 1557 to ensure compliance with the rule.
There have been many articles on the topic, including the two below in which Doug Dahl and David Thornton were quoted.
- “New Rules Prohibit Sex, Race Discrimination in Health Care,” The Tennessean (August 8, 2016)
- “Affordable Care Act Rules Arrive to Combat Health Care Discrimination in Memphis,” The Commercial Appeal (August 6, 2016)