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Department of Health and Human Services finalizes Section 1557 regulations

June 17, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has amended the final rule on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to no longer require health care providers to include notices related to nondiscrimination and language assistance services in all significant communications.

The rule, which was implemented in 2016, applies to health care providers who receive certain funds through the Department of Health and Human Services, 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 provider or the patient.

Providers had been required to include taglines in the top 15 non-English languages spoken in their state indicating that free language assistance services were available, as well as a notice of nondiscrimination, with any significant publications and communications. The Department of Health and Human Services has repealed this requirement, removing "the unduly broad, sometimes confusing, and inefficient requirement that all significant communications contain taglines," according to the amended rule.

The department stated the "requirement caused significant unanticipated expenses" because of confusion over what constitutes a significant communication, leading many covered entities to include the nondiscrimination notice and taglines with most written communications, based on comments the department received.

The dental profession has spent an estimated $240 million on complying with the Section 1557 requirements.

Providers are still required to provide taglines when they are necessary to ensure meaningful access by people with limited English proficiency to a covered program or activity, according to the amended rule.

Another amendment permits remote English language interpreting services to be audio based instead of video based.

The amendments are effective Aug. 18.