Proposal Aims To Curb Disability Bias Among Doctors, Insurers
The Obama administration is taking new steps to ensure that people with disabilities don’t face discrimination at the doctor’s office.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has put forward new regulations clarifying protections for people with disabilities when it comes to health care and insurance coverage.
Specifically, the proposal published Tuesday in the Federal Register mandates that health care providers “make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.”
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What’s more, under the proposal, facilities and technology should be accessible and those with disabilities must be provided “effective communication” via alternative formats or sign language interpreters, for example. The plan also stipulates that insurance providers offer equal coverage to people with disabilities.
The rule would apply to all plans sold by health insurers that offer coverage through Healthcare.gov and any health program that receives funding through the Department of Health and Human Services including hospitals that treat Medicare beneficiaries, federal officials said.
In addition to disability, the proposal bolsters protections related to race, color, national origin, age, sex and gender identity.
“This proposed rule is an important step to strengthen protections for people who have often been subject to discrimination in our health care system,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.
The rule will be up for public comment through Nov. 9 before it can be finalized.