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Capitol Correspondence - 02.07.22

HHS Issues Updated Guidance on Federal Civil Rights Protections During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

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On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued new guidance for healthcare providers entitled FAQs for Healthcare Providers during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Federal Civil Rights Protections for Individuals with Disabilities under Section 504 and Section 1557.

The guidance makes clear that “[f]ederal civil rights laws continue to apply during any public health emergency, including COVID-19, and [the Office of Civil Rights] continues to enforce laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability” including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The guidance also provides clarity on compliance with Section 504 and Section 1557 when a health care provider is operating under a Crisis Standard of Care and instructs that health care entities may not deny services to an individual based on their disability and must make decisions about allocation of scarce resources free from stereotypes and biases about disability.