HHS Issues New Proposed Rule to Strengthen Prohibitions Against Discrimination on the Basis of a Disability in Health Care and Human Services Programs

From USDHHS: Complete Post through this link…

The Biden-Harris Administration is taking further action on its commitment to promote access to health care and human services for persons with disabilities. Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced a proposed rule that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.  The rule, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance, updates critical provisions that help persons with disabilities access health and human services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The rule, originally published in 1977, advances the promise of the Rehabilitation Act and helps to ensure that people with disabilities are not subjected to discrimination in any program or activity receiving funding from HHS just because they have a disability. 

“It’s 2023, yet for many Americans accessing basic health needs is still challenging.  Some persons with disabilities may have to drive hours to get an accessible mammogram or receive the benefit and advancements of our health care system.  This historic proposed rule will advance justice for people with disabilities and help ensure they are not subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving funding from HHS just because they have a disability,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We celebrate the inclusion and access promoted by this landmark civil rights law for people with disabilities, by taking action in this proposed regulation to clarify and strengthen the protections afforded by Section 504, reflecting over fifty years of advocacy by the disability community.”

“While we have made significant progress since Section 504 was signed into law nearly 50 years ago, there is more work for us all to live up its promise to the American people,” said HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “Today’s rule is long overdue and a major step forward in the fight to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from or discriminated against in health care and social services across the United States.  Once again, the Biden-Harris Administration is making clear that we must do better and stand up to improve equitable access to health care, free of discrimination.”

“Freedom from disability-based discrimination is a civil right—and in health and human services programs it can be a matter of life and death,” said HHS General Counsel Samuel Bagenstos.  “My office has been privileged to support the Office for Civil Rights as it worked to propose the most comprehensive update to our regulations implementing Section 504 since then-Secretary Califano signed the original 504 regulations in 1977.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the discrimination that too many people with disabilities continue to face, from denial of medical treatment due to ableism, to inaccessible medical equipment and websites, to having no choice but to receive services in institutional settings,” said Alison Barkoff, who leads the Administration for Community Living. “ACL is pleased to have collaborated with the Office for Civil Rights to ensure the rule addresses the most pressing issues and priorities of the disability community.”

Leave a Reply