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  • Washington Highlights

    HHS Releases Final rule Banning Discrimination in Federally Funded Health Programs

    Philip Alberti, Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) May 13 released the final rule implementing section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination in federally funded health care programs.

    The rule extends existing civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination based on gender identity. Among other protections, the rule prohibits insurers from categorically excluding care related to gender transition and affirms that women should receive care equal to their male counterparts.

    Additionally the rule includes requirements for fostering effective communication with persons with disabilities and for increasing language assistance for people with limited English proficiency.

    The AAMC has supported HHS’ actions to advance health equity and minimize disparities in health care.  The AAMC previously submitted a letter to HHS in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities. In the letter, AAMC included statements of support for HHS’ extension of non-discrimination protections to transgendered populations and strengthening of protections for individuals with disabilities and limited English proficiency. 

    Furthermore, AAMC commended HHS’ application of these provisions to all health programs that receive any amount of Federal assistance from any Federal agency as such broad application will help ensure members of these vulnerable groups will likely be protected against discrimination.