ALS Association Urges HHS to Toughen Up Protections for People with Disabilities


Earlier this week, we filed comments urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights to recommend the department finalize a proposed rule that would strengthen civil rights protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in federal health care programs.

The proposed rule would affect Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prohibits discrimination by health insurers and would extend those protections to included health care providers participating in Medicare Part B.

Specifically, we commented on and support provisions of the rule that would:

  • Expand the scope of health care entities covered by nondiscrimination protections, including, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Medicare Supplemental insurance, and other insurers of health-related benefits and services.
  • Expand the scope of health care entities covered by nondiscrimination provisions to include all entities that receive federal financial assistance as well as other currently exempted insurers and providers.
  • Require covered entities notify the public of the availability of language assistance services and auxiliary aids and services and activities through their Notice of Availability.
  • Require covered entities to effectively communicate with individuals with disabilities and provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to individuals with disabilities and their companions with disabilities.
  • Ensure accessibility of information and communications technology for individuals with disabilities that includes accommodations to access websites, online portals, and related mobile health applications.
  • Require covered entities to provide telehealth services in a manner that does not discriminate against individuals with disabilities.

We also recommended strengthening the proposed rule by including language banning the use of discriminatory value assessments like the Quality-Adjusted Life Year, working to expand access to multidisciplinary care centers by enlarging the number of facilities considered in-network for health insurance, and ensuring timely access to health care services and specialized equipment.

HHS received over 17,000 public comments from stakeholders will now consider all the public comments it received on the proposed rule before issuing a final rule.