HHS Proposal Prohibits Discriminatory Care of Patients by Providers and Health Insurers
September 18, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed rules enacting a civil rights provision, known as Section 1557, of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that would prohibit sex discrimination against patients by healthcare organizations and health plans, including those participating in the health insurance marketplace. The proposal bans any health program or activity that receives federal funds from discriminating based on race, national origin, sex, age, or disability. The proposed rule also establishes that sex discrimination prohibitions include discrimination based on gender identity. Although HHS's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has previously interpreted Section 1557 as barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, HHS's proposal is more vague about Section 1557's application in prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, noting that court rulings have been mixed as to whether sexual orientation is covered by prohibitions on sex discrimination.