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HHS Finalizes Nondiscrimination Rules Addressing Disability Access and Health Care

This week, the HHS's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published two final rules intended to strengthen nondiscrimination protections for people living with disabilities and advance equity in health care, respectively.  

OCR's Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance rule marks the first major update Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and sets forth disability nondiscrimination requirements that all recipients of HHS funding must adhere to. Last fall, USAging provided feedback, overall applauding OCR for their efforts to prevent discrimination against individuals living with disabilities. A major provision that will impact AAAs is the new website, mobile app and kiosk accessibility requirements that will take effect in 2026 or 2027 depending on the agency size. 

OCR also released the Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities final rule, intended to strengthen nondiscrimination protections in health care through Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. This rule applies to all HHS-administered programs, which likely includes Older Americans Act programs. In 2022, USAging submitted a response to the proposed rule providing feedback on the proposed changes.  

Important provisions in the final rule include reinstating Section 1557's application to all HHS-administered health programs and activities and health insurance issuers that receive federal financial assistance, protecting LGBTQI+ patients from discrimination and affirming protections against sex discrimination consistent with caselaw.   

USAging will share full Legislative Updates on these rules in the coming days, but if you have any questions, please contact the policy team at policy@usaging.org.

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