HHS Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity, English Proficiency, Disability

May 20, 2016 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​On May 13, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it has issued a final rule that implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the first federal civil rights law to broadly prohibit sexual discrimination in federally funded health programs. The Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities final rule states that women must be treated equally to men when receiving healthcare and insurance, and that individuals cannot be denied care or coverage based on sex, including gender identity and sex stereotyping. Categorical coverage exclusions or limitations for healthcare services based on gender transitions are discriminatory, according to the rule, which is summarized by HHS, and individuals must be treated consistent with their gender identity. The final rule does not resolve whether discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, but it does make clear that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will evaluate complaints that allege discrimination against someone based on their sexual orientation. The final rule also enhances the provision of language assistance for people with limited English proficiency.

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