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Updated ACA mandate takes effect July 18

Many dental offices required to post nondiscrimination notices, provide enhanced language assistance

July 01, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The federal Office for Civil Rights has issued a final rule prohibiting health care entities that receive federal financial assistance from discriminating based on age, race, color, nationality, disability or gender.

According to the Office for Civil Rights, Section 1557 is the first federal civil rights law barring discrimination on the basis of sex in health care. The Affordable Care Act has been in effect since March 2010.

The rule, which goes into effect July 18, implements Section 1557 of the ACA and applies to any health care provider who receives funds through Health and Human Services, including Medicaid and CHIP. According to OCR, the final rule does not apply to providers who only receive reimbursement under Medicare Part B, but the agency has not clarified if the rule applies to dentists who only receive reimbursement under Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage.

The Association has reached out to OCR regarding Medicare Part C providers, and will update the ADA News and other Association news channels when information is available.

The rule protects individuals with disabilities by requiring covered entities "to make electronic information and newly constructed or altered facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities and to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for individuals with disabilities," OCR said in a news release.

OCR also said that covered entities will be required to "take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with limited English proficiency" providing qualified interpreters and translators.

Covered dental practices must post two kinds of notices: a notice of nondiscrimination, and taglines in the top 15 non-English languages spoken in the state indicating that free language assistance services are available.

The notices must be posted in the dental office, on the website and in any significant publications and communications. For smaller items, such as postcards and tri-fold brochures, the practice may use a shorter nondiscrimination statement and taglines in the top two non-English languages spoken in the state. The compliance date for the notices is 90 days after the effective date, or October 16, 2016.

Covered dental practices with 15 or more employees will also be required to implement a grievance procedure and designate an employee to be responsible for grievances.

To minimize the administrative burden for member dentists who are covered entities, the ADA has prepared resources to aid in compliance with the rule, including an FAQ and checklist. Visit Success.ADA.org/1557resources. There are also sample materials available on the OCR's website.

For more information, visit the OCR's website and search Section 1557.