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Proposed Regulation Seeks to Strengthen Nondiscrimination in Health and Human Service Programs: Public Comment Requested

A new proposed rule announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Promotes Nondiscrimination in Health and Human Services for Persons with Disabilities.” The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) expands Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, enacted originally in 1973 to prevent discrimination based on disability by organizations receiving federal funding. “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,” explained Alison Barkoff, who leads the Administration for Community Living (ACL). She added that “’ACL is pleased to have collaborated with the Office of Civil Rights to ensure the rule addresses the most pressing issues and priorities of the disabilities community.’” The ruling would add new provisions to the law that clarify existing requirements prohibiting discrimination based on disability in health care, child welfare, and other human services programs. It would also prohibit discrimination in medical treatment; ensure accessibility of websites, mobile devices, and kiosks; and implement requirements for accessible medical equipment. These provisions seek to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunities to those available to others to participate in or benefit from health care programs and activities. Public comments can be submitted on or before November 13, 2023. For more details, read the press release announcing that HHS Issues New Proposed Rule to Strengthen Prohibitions Against Discrimination on the Basis of a Disability in Health Care and Human Services Programs. The Federal Register featured the full announcement, including instructions on submitting comments, on the proposed rule regarding Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities. Additional information is also available in the AAPD announcement entitled American Association of People with Disabilities Applauds Announcement of Historic HHS Nondiscrimination Regulation.