Reminder: Health Care Providers Must Post Nondiscrimination Notices by October 16, 2016

October 14, 2016 | Health Services

Pursuant to a final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the “HHS Rule”), certain health care providers covered by Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (“Section 1557”) will be required to post nondiscrimination notices and taglines by October 16, 2016.

Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Compliance with this prohibition and the notice requirement shall apply to all health care providers, including hospitals, home health agencies, ambulatory surgical centers, and physician practices, that receive federal financial assistance through their participation in Medicare (excluding Medicare Part B) or Medicaid. In addition, providers that employ fifteen (15) or more employees will be required to designate at least one employee to be responsible for overseeing compliance efforts and investigating alleged discrimination.

With respect to the notice requirement, providers will have to post a nondiscrimination notice that includes the following items:

  1. A statement that the provider does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability;
  2. A statement that the provider offers appropriate auxiliary aids and services, free of charge and in a timely manner, to individuals with disabilities;
  3. A statement that the provider offers language assistance services, free of charge and in a timely manner, to individuals with limited English proficiency;
  4. Information on how an individual may obtain necessary aids and services;
  5. Contact information for a designated employee, if applicable, that may be reached in order to file a grievance for alleged violations of Section 1557; and
  6. Information on how an individual may file a discrimination complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.

The notice will have to be posted in conspicuous physical locations of the provider, on the provider’s website, and in significant publications and communications made by the provider to the public. In publications and communications that are shorter, but nonetheless significant, providers may include a short nondiscrimination statement in lieu of a full notice. Providers are also encouraged, but not required, to post the notice in non-English languages that are frequently encountered in their geographic service areas.

The HHS Rule also requires providers to post taglines indicating that free language assistance services are available in at least the top fifteen (15) languages spoken by individuals in the state or states where they provide services. Providers should consider whether they will provide training to appropriate staff and incorporate the requirements of Section 1557 and the HSS Rule into their existing policies and procedures.

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