Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities

stop discrimination equal rights equality no racism based on age race or etnicity gender

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect on October 16, 2016 to reinforce regulations currently in place.  This section is intended for Covered Entities and other firms enrolled in CMS programs to further prevent restrictions based on race, national origin, gender, age, or disability.  Providers in general likely have been following most of these guidelines already to avoid violating any state or federal civil rights acts.  As a rule of thumb if a practice believes there is reason to restrict or adjust service to a certain class of patients, it should be run by an attorney ahead of time to determine if deemed acceptable, even if not enrolled in any CMS incentive program.


Few Exceptions of Section 1557 Act:

  1. For religious reasons or if putting accommodations in place would cause undue duress for the practice, Assistance from legal professionals should be used to ensure there is adequate proof to avoid penalties. 
  2. Some cases, service can be denied based on customer behavior for health and safety reasons. For the same reason restaurants may require “no shirt, no shoes, no service;” . However the current climate of litigation has reached the point where a patient could make a case they are not wearing certain articles of clothing because of anxiety, which may be covered under the disability portion of this act, including the requirement to provide patients with a separate, private waiting room upon request for anxiety reasons.

Foreign Language Translation:

Section 1557 also expands foreign languages translation requirements to make adequate quality translations available to customers promptly, covering any languages they may reasonable expect to encounter in their jurisdiction.  This law allows some flexibility, stating translations are to be provided “when reasonable.” To determine what languages would be expected to encounter in your district and to ensure you meet this minimum of providing “reasonable this could be also run by with legal team to determine if being covered adequately etc.

Complete list of translation resource for covered entities:

http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557/translated-resources/index.html

What the Section 1557 act means to the patient?

For patients if you have a reason to believe you were discriminated against, either denied or given lower priority service based on any of your demographic characteristics, also if not provided adequate translation in a timely manner, you can file a claim with the OCR (http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/filing-a-complaint/complaint-process/index.html) within 180 days, and you may be entitled to compensation for the inconvenience.  

Staff Training on the new Section 1557 Act:

For providers,In order to avoid any complaints,  it is important to provide training to ensure all staff members know the updated requirements.  EHR 2.0 offers a training module for Section 1557 regulations as part of our HIPAA Compliance Training purchase. 
section-1557-training

 At EHR 2.0, we assist healthcare organizations and business associates develop and implement practices to secure patient data, and comply with HIPAA/HITECH regulations and Meaningful Use EHR incentive programs. Contact us at 866-276-8309 or info@ehr20.com for more information.

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