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WASHINGTON–On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a final rule implementing the Health Care Rights Law, otherwise known as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex including pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation, and sex stereotyping in a health program or activity that receives federal funding.

The final rule addresses the many ways in which discrimination in health care contributes to negative health interactions and outcomes, particularly for people of color. Critically, the final rule prohibits discrimination in the use of patient care decision support tools, such as clinical algorithms in health care decision-making, a prevalent form of discrimination in health care today. The final rule also requires covered entities to adopt antidiscrimination policies and procedures, as well as training for staff on those procedures, enabling stronger enforcement and compliance with the law.

The following statement is from Adria Bonillas, Health Equity Counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“The final rule’s protections against discriminatory health care are critical for combatting racial health disparities. Equal access to high-quality health care, free from discrimination, is vital for Black communities and other communities of color, who face discrimination in health care at alarming rates and experience poorer health outcomes as a result. We commend the Biden Administration for taking steps to strengthen protections in health care for groups that have long experienced unequal treatment. We also recognize there is more to be done to protect communities of color from discrimination and to close the widening gap in health disparities. The Lawyers’ Committee has advocated to ensure stronger protections exist for patients of color and we will continue to lend our support so that everyone can receive the high-quality health care they deserve.”




About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law–The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real.