/, Industry News, Interpreting/New ACA Non-Discrimination Rules

July 18th is coming! Are you ready?
On July 18, 2016, the long-awaited final rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities goes into effect. The new rule tackles two vital issues for patient-centered care: language access for Limited English Proficient, deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and visually impaired patients and gender identity discrimination.

Next week, Vocalink will issue an in-depth summary of the language access regulations in the final rule affecting health care providers.[1] We will focus on what you need to know to ensure your Language Access Plan is up-to-date and compliant. But first, let’s take a high-level look at the new rule.

Who is affected by the new rule?
Short answer: just about everyone in health care. Though the final rule, on its face, applies only to health programs and activities operated or funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, DHS explained in the comments that the coverage is very, very broad, including nearly all hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, clinics, surgical centers, outpatient facilities, physicians, physicians’ groups, laboratories, and many others.

What is included in the final rule?
The final rule codifies many of the best practices long recommended by DHS and the Joint Commission, pulls in regulations governing language access for public entities, and adds some interesting new twists. Important topics included are:

  • Translated written notices, statements and taglines in paper and online;
  • Requirement to use “qualified” interpreters and translators;
  • Prohibition against using friends, family and/or unqualified staff as interpreters or translators;
  • Specific requirements for video remote interpreting, including giving “primary preference” to a disabled patient’s choice of auxiliary aid; and
  • Enforcement mechanisms, including a private right to sue and receive money damages.

In addition to the in-depth summary, please join me on July 19th at 12pm ET for a free webinar discussing the new rule and answering your questions. Click here to register.


[1] The final rule also applies to many health insurers receiving financial assistance through the Federal and State Marketplaces as well as State Medicaid agencies and State public health agencies.