HHS Issues Final Rule on Improving Health Equity.

Date posted: June 2, 2016

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a final rule expanding protections against discrimination in healthcare.  The protections stem from Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which bars discrimination in federally funded health programs based on pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping.  The final rule also prohibits discriminatory marketing practices and benefit designs.  Further, the rule enhances language assistance for individuals with limited English proficiency and ensures effective communication for those with disabilities.

Key provisions of the final rule include:

  • Requiring equal treatment of women and men concerning receipt of healthcare coverage and services;
  • Prohibiting denial of healthcare based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, including pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping;
  • Requiring entities to make electronic information and newly constructed facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities;
  • Providing auxiliary aids and services for disabled individuals; and
  • Requiring covered entities to provide meaningful access and develop language access plans to individuals with limited English proficiency.

HHS noted that where application of the rule would conflict with federal laws concerning religious freedom and conscience, the rule would not apply.

The HHS press release is available at:


The HHS fact sheet on Section 1557 is available at:


Department of Health and Human Services.  “HHS Finalizes Rule to Improve Health Equity Under the Affordable Care Act.”  Press Release.  13 May 2016.

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