Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued The Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities final rule which implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Under this rule, which incorporates long-standing Federal civil rights laws, individuals are protected from discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping.
In addition to implementing Section 1557’s prohibition on sex discrimination, the final rule also enhances language assistance for people with limited English proficiency and helps to ensure effective communication for individuals with disabilities. The rule also explains consumers’ rights under the law and clarifies the responsibilities of health care providers and insurers that receive federal funds.
Section 1557 clarifies nondiscrimination protections to individuals participating in:
- Any health program or activity any part of which received funding from HHS
- Any health program of activity that HHS itself administers
- Health Insurance Marketplaces and all plans offered by issuers that participate in those Marketplace.
The rule largely supports existing polices and law but clarifies that the protections will block discrimination based on sex, which HHS says includes gender identity. Previously, laws enforced by HHS' Office for Civil Rights barred discrimination based only on race, color, national origin, disability or age.
Click here for more information on key provisions and frequently asked questions regarding this rule.