Ensuring the Rights of Persons with Limited English Proficiency in Health Care During COVID-19

From HHS Office for Civil Rights in Action: For More Info, Go Here…

In light of the nationwide public health emergency and national emergency1 declared as a result of
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides this bulletin to health entities covered by OCR’s
civil rights authorities to ensure they are better able to serve individuals with limited English
proficiency (LEP).


OCR enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and Section 1557 of the Affordable
Care Act (Section 1557), which prohibit entities receiving HHS-provided federal financial assistance
from discriminating on the basis of race, color and national origin (including LEP). Under the
regulations implementing Section 1557, recipients, such as health care providers, must take
reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with LEP eligible to be served or likely
to be encountered in their health programs and activities. This longstanding obligation is not waived during a National Emergency. Reasonable steps may include written translations of documents, or oral language assistance from a qualified interpreter, either in-person or using remote communication technology.

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