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HHS to continue enforcing Section 1557

January 05, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights said Jan. 3 that it will continue to enforce the final rule promulgated under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act consistent with a federal court's preliminary injunction of the provision that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or termination of pregnancy.

The court order does not change requirements such as posting notices of nondiscrimination and taglines, using qualified interpreters and translators, and taking reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with limited English proficiency. The preliminary injunction was issued Dec. 31, 2016, by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. A preliminary injunction may be granted by a court either before or during a trial in order to temporarily enjoin an action pending final judgment. Its purpose is to preserve the status quo until a final judgment is rendered.

In a Jan. 3 email sent to a group email list, the Office for Civil Rights said it will "continue to enforce the law — including its important protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or disability and its provisions aimed at enhancing language assistance for people with limited English proficiency, as well as other sex discrimination provisions — to the full extent consistent with the court's order."

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability in federally funded health care. The Section 1557 final rule applies to dental practices that receive certain funding from HHS. For more information about Section 1557, visit the ADA Center for Professional Success at www.ada.org/1557 or the website of the Office for Civil Rights.