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HHS 504 Rule: What people are saying

On Thursday, Sept. 7, the HHS Office for Civil Rights published a proposed update to the HHS regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits disability discrimination by recipients of federal funding. This is the first comprehensive update to the regulations since they were first put in place more than 40 years ago. The proposed rule strengthens protections for people with disabilities and reflects the input and priorities of the disability community.  

HHS is now seeking input on the proposed rule -- comments from the disability and aging communities is essential! Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) on  November 13, 2023.  

HHS has received an overwhelming amount of support from stakeholders, many of whom that will be directly impacted by the rule. Here's what they're saying:

  • “@HHSGov has announced a historic notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This NPRM is the most significant update to Section 504 in 50 years! This is a critical update and a huge win for the disabled community!” — American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
  • “In too many parts of our health care and child welfare systems, disability discrimination remains pervasive. Doctors assume a patient with a disability has a lower quality of life. Child welfare staff assume a parent with a disability cannot provide adequate parenting. This proposed rule is a huge step forward to combat these harmful stereotypes. We applaud the Biden administration for putting this proposed rule forward.” — Susan Mizner, Director of the Disability Rights Program at the American Civil Liberties Union
  • "We celebrate the inclusion and access promoted by this landmark civil rights law for people with disabilities, by taking action in this proposed regulation to clarify and strengthen the protections afforded by Section 504, reflecting over fifty years of advocacy by the disability community.” Massive news from @HHSGov as they propose strengthening protections against discrimination based on disability!” — Americans with Disabilities Act National Network
  • “Thank you, @SecBecerra, for working towards ensuring people with disabilities have access to health care. We look forward to reviewing these important policies” — American Medical Association (AMA) 
  • "ANCOR is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act, the first U.S. civil rights legislation to protect disabled people from discrimination, and commend HHS for the newly proposed Section 504 rules that strengthen those protections." — ANCOR
  • "Exciting new proposed rule to update Section 504 to help better protect people with disabilities!  This will have significant implications for access to medical care and more! #disabilityrights." — ARC Nebraska
  • “ASAN applauds the proposed updates to Section 504 regulations. These updates are a major opportunity to protect the rights of disabled people and ensure we can access health care and vital services without discrimination.” — Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • “The Catholic health ministry is strongly committed to supporting legislation and policies that increase access to care for everyone, particularly those who are most vulnerable and in need of care. We welcome the opportunity to review this regulation and work with the Administration to ensure that it increases access to equitable care for persons with disabilities and allows health care providers to better serve this population.” — Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA)
  • “The Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed Section 504 rule will start guidance to dismantle barriers to care, addressing discrimination, making medical equipment more accessible, and ensuring that disabled Americans receive care in an appropriate, integrated health care setting. I applaud the Department of Health and Human Services for its thoughtful approach to ensuring that every American has an opportunity to access health care.” — Mia Ives-Rublee, Director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress
  • “Disability-based bias and discrimination persist, and in some instances have worsened, in the biomedical research, health care, and human services sectors. We applaud the Secretary for releasing this proposed rule, which can prioritize and bring the enforcement of Section 504 into the 21st century. It will improve the lives and futures of millions of people with speech and other disabilities.” — CommunicationFIRST Policy Director Bob Williams
  • "Nearly 50 years after passage of the Rehabilitation Act, these updates are needed now more than ever. COVID and the aging population has led to a significant increase in the numbers of people with disabilities, including Black, Indigenous and other people of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community who continue to face barriers to equal and just access to care. COVID will not be the last pandemic or other emergency this nation faces, and we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past when encountering future threats. We must continue to uphold the intent of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 504 and ensure discrimination in health care is not tolerated and every person’s life is valued. Thank you again to the HHS leadership and staff for your significant efforts. We commend those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes." - Consortium for Constitutents with Disabilities
  • "In this, the 50th anniversary year of the landmark federal civil rights law for people with disabilities, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, we applaud the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra’s decision to update and strengthen the law’s healthcare-related regulations. ….[W]e thank Secretary Becerra and the Biden-Harris Administration for their efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities by eradicating discrimination. We are hopeful that stronger regulations, backed by robust enforcement, will reform a dysfunctional healthcare system into one that gives the disability community the treatment it deserves." — Disability Rights California
  • “The new provisions show HHS’s commitment to reconciling Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and key cases that together enable people with various disabilities to achieve consistent and timely access to needed healthcare, so that they can pursue their own life goals and interests. DREDF shares this commitment.” — Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) 
  • “Important that after 50 years, @SecBecerra and @HHSOCR are working to advance equity by updating protections & improving access to care for persons with disabilities. We look forward to reviewing this proposed rule.” — Federation of American Hospitals
  • “As advocates for older adults, we celebrate the disability rights community's decades of advocacy to modernize these regulations to benefit people with disabilities of all ages! We will work to ensure the final rule is strong and fully enforced. #DisabilityRights are #CivilRights — Natalie Kean, Director of Federal Health Advocacy, Justice in Aging
  • “NCIL applauds the work of HHS for this historic NPRM. Special thank you to Secretary Becerra, Alison Barkoff and many others for their hard work drafting the rule.” – National Council on Independent Living
  • “We praise @HHSGov for taking this important step today.  It has been decades since the last update of the 504 regulations, since then, society, the disability community, expectations, and much more has changed.  It is critical to update the regulations to reflect these changes.” — National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
  • "I applaud HHS for proposing this update. This rule puts us on the right course to better ensure my (son) and others like him with Down syndrome will not face continued discrimination when accessing critical health care services and programs.”  — Kate Dougherty, President of the NDSC Board of Directors
  • The National Health Law Program (NHeLP) strongly supports this historic modernization of Section 504 regulations. As the first update to Section 504 regulations since 1977, the proposed rule addresses many important topics, including the accessibility of web, mobile apps, and self-serve kiosks in the delivery of health care; ensures medical equipment at physical offices is accessible to people using wheelchairs or mobility aids; and prohibits the use of discriminatory assessment methods that devalue disabled individuals’ lives when evaluating the cost-effectiveness of medical treatments. Such methods, still in common use, can prevent people with disabilities from accessing critical treatments just because they have a disability.  NHeLP thanks the Biden-Harris Administration for demonstrating their commitment to protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities.— Jennifer Lav, National Health Law Program (NHeLP) Senior Attorney 
  • “The proposed rule comes at a critical moment for Disabled people. Accelerating climate change is increasing disasters and public health emergencies, causing people with disabilities to die and be institutionalized. People with disabilities are 2 to 4 times more likely to die or be injured in disasters than non-disabled people. In the United States this is largely because Disabled people do not have equal access to disaster-related programs and services, including medical services. The rule will help rectify pervasive discrimination in health care by more explicitly delineating our rights in medical areas where we are especially likely to encounter discrimination.” — Shaylin Sluzalis & Germán Parodi - Co-Executive Directors, The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies
  • “We applaud HHS @SecBecerra & Office of Civil Rights Director Melanie Fontes Rainer for issuing a new rule that strengthens civil rights protections for people with disabilities, which includes 10% of all Latinos. America wins when civil rights are strong.” — UnidosUS


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Last modified on 09/14/2023

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