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OCR meets with health care groups, receives input on Sec. 1557

May 23, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA was one of several health organizations invited to a May 17 stakeholder meeting with the U.S. Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

The meeting, led by Roger Severino, OCR director, was designed to give the agency input on the Sec. 1557 final rule, which is based on a provision in the Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in health programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

While the ADA opposes discrimination in all forms, the Association is on the record saying it believes that the rule is confusing and duplicative. ADA has asked OCR to reexamine the final rule to help free dentists from unnecessary and burdensome regulations.  

During the May 17 listening session, the ADA again shared its concerns with the rule, such as:

  • The requirement to include the notice of nondiscrimination in "significant" publications and communications is burdensome and vague, requiring dentists to place the notice on multiple documents and to determine which documents are considered "significant." The ADA has suggested that, similar to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Notice of Privacy Practices, a Notice of Nondiscrimination should be provided to a patient initially, which would then suffice for any further communication.  
  • The Section 1557 final rule contains requirements that are similar but not identical to other federal laws, leading to confusion. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires translation and interpretation services for receiving benefits through federal programs. The final rule also overlaps with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Certain requirements of the rule are vague, such as the requirement that a qualified interpreter be able to communicate "impartially," which makes it unclear when it is not appropriate for bilingual staff and dentists to communicate with patients in a language other than English.

The event featured a wide range of health care groups that included the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Community Health Centers, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

The ADA has provided resources to members on complying with Section 1557, including pages on Frequently Asked Questions, guidance on the Notice of Nondiscrimination, sample taglines in state by state format. ADA Business Resources has endorsed a company that provides interpretation and translation services. Find out more at ADA.org/1557.