HHS' final rule to combat disability discrimination: What healthcare leaders should know

HHS finalized a rule May 1 that updates protections against disability discrimination in healthcare.

Five things healthcare leaders should know:

1. The rule, titled "Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities," is designed to advance equity and increase protections for people with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, according to HHS. This section prohibits disability discrimination in programs and activities that receive funding from HHS.

2. Under the final rule, medical treatment decisions cannot be based on "negative biases or stereotypes about individuals with disabilities, judgments that an individual with a disability will be a burden on others, or dehumanizing beliefs that the life of an individual with a disability has less value than the life of a person without a disability."

3. The final rule also bans the use of "any measure, assessment or tool that discounts the value of a life extension on the basis of disability to deny, limit, or otherwise condition access to an aid, benefit or service."

4. Additionally, the final rule includes a definition of accessibility for websites and mobile applications; adoption of the U.S. Access Board's standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment; details of requirements to ensure nondiscrimination in the services provided by HHS-funded child welfare agencies; and clarification around obligations to provide services in the most integrated setting appropriate for those with disabilities, according to HHS.

5. The final rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Publication is slated for May 9. A fact sheet on the rule is available here.

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