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HHS Releases Key Regulations To Protect Civil Rights in Health Programs

April 26, 2024

Final “1557 Rule” includes important provisions for disabled people and older adults

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a final rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in covered health programs and activities.

This essential regulation helps to establish robust civil rights protections for people who use health programs and services funded by HHS, including many of ACL’s programs. The regulation includes a number of provisions that are particularly relevant for older adults and people with disabilities.

OCR is finalizing this rule during a once-in-a-generation moment for civil rights regulations, particularly for people with disabilities. In addition to Section 1557, HHS is undertaking updates to its rule implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (which protects people from discrimination based on disability). The departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice have all also announced or undertaken actions related to Section 504, and the Access Board has taken action on five rules updating accessibility standards for people with disabilities over the past two years. To help you easily find the details on each of these actions, ACL has created a website tracking developing disability-related regulations.

This final rule is a landmark achievement for health equity. It will help ensure that all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, will have access to the health care they need, free from discrimination. ACL will be working with OCR to help educate older adults and people with disabilities about their rights under Section 1557 and to help our networks understand their obligations.

Related Links
•    Read the HHS press release
•    Final rule in the Federal Register
•    OCR's Section 1557 webpage

Last modified on 04/26/2024

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