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Organized dentistry supports Office for Civil Rights proposal to amend Sec. 1557

August 16, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The Organized Dentistry Coalition supports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights’ proposal to amend portions of the Section 1557 Final Rule.

Sec. 1557 is the provision of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits health care entities that receive federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex. The final rule, which was implemented in 2016, applies to health care providers who receive certain funds through HHS, including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program as well as providers who receive reimbursement for Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans, regardless of whether the plan reimburses the dentist or the patient.

According to OCR’s proposal, the agency would, among other things, repeal the Section 1557 requirements for covered dental practices to post taglines in the top 15 non-English languages spoken in the state and notices of nondiscrimination.

In an Aug. 13 letter to OCR, the Organized Dentistry Coalition said it “strongly supports nondiscrimination in health care and equal access to care for all patients without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, or disability,” but noted that its dentist members have reported “great difficulty with complying with the final rule.”

The coalition reported that the rule’s requirement of posting nondiscrimination notices and taglines has been challenging and confusing since “there is no clear definition on what constitutes a significant or a nonsignificant publication or
communication” and estimated the dental profession has spent “approximately $240,450,000 on compliance to date.”

The coalition said it supports the Office for Civil Rights’ proposal to repeal the notice of nondiscrimination and tagline requirements because its members “believe that the repeal of these requirements will lead to cost savings and will allow staff to spend time on appropriate patient care and communication instead of time on interpreting and complying with the regulations.”

The coalition also expressed support for the proposed rule’s exemption from the auxiliary aids and services requirements for covered entities with fewer than 15 employees and asked that the Office for Civil Rights “explicitly include which actions are exempt under this proposal,” or state that the requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance should be followed.

“A large percentage of dental offices employ fewer than 15 employees; this change will help reduce the burden and cost on many dental offices,” the coalition concluded.

Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.