Monday, August 5, 2013

Civil Rights Provision in Affordable Care Act Prohibits Discrimination in Health Programs and Activities: Request for Information

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557) in the Federal Register.  The Department welcomes comments from consumers, health care providers, and other interested members of the public and invites submission of comments.

OCR enforces Section 1557, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity), disability, or age in certain health programs and activities.  Of particular note, Section 1557 is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit sex discrimination in covered health programs and activities.  To ensure equal access to health care, Section 1557 also applies civil rights protections to the newly created Health Insurance Marketplaces. 

The RFI is intended to gather information that will assist OCR in drafting the Section 1557 implementing regulation, and seeks comments on a wide range of topics, including:.
 ·         Examples of, experience with, and impacts of discrimination in health programs and activities;
·         Examples of health programs and activities, including less common types of programs;
·         What exceptions, if any, should apply in the application of discrimination on the basis of sex;
·         Access to electronic and information technology for individuals with disabilities; and
·         Language assistance services for persons with limited English proficiency.

Section 1557 is consistent with and promotes several of the Administration’s key initiatives that advance prevention and wellness, reduce health disparities, and improve access to health care services.   The Affordable Care Act helps ensure that all people, particularly low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, and other underserved populations, improve their health and increase their health care and insurance options.  For more information regarding the Request for Information, please contact Carole Brown at 202-619-0805.

OCR is currently accepting and investigating complaints filed under Section 1557.  If you believe you have been discriminated against on one of the bases protected by Section 1557, you may file a complaint with OCR.   Language assistance services and alternate formats and other communication assistance are available and provided free of charge.

This notice is also available in the following in-language translations:

To learn more about non-discrimination laws and civil rights matters in health care and human service settings and to find information about filing a complaint, visit us at

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