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New non-discrimination regulations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) become law
Jul 18, 2016

Before the Affordable Care Act’s Section  1557, federal law did not prohibit sexual discrimination in health care. Now, it does.  

HHS is moving forward on several fronts with new rules, regulations, guidance, and priorities concerning discrimination in health care. The new rules have some differences with prior laws. As a federal court decided last year, the ACA’s Section 1557 is essentially “a new civil right.” Section 1557 and the new non-discrimination rules offer new options to prevent discrimination in health care.

These regulations, under ACA Section 1557, prohibit many forms of health care discrimination and also impose significant requirements on health care providers, hospitals, health insurance plans and companies, and employee benefit plans. 
While the ACA has garnered major media, public, and political attention for some of its provisions, resulting in myriad court decisions, the law’s civil rights protections have flown comparatively under the radar, leaving many organizations unprepared for their new legal obligations that begin today.

These regulations will affect health care and insurance for years to come by requiring these industries to adopt and promote equity and non-discrimination.  Section 1557, therefore, promotes and advances the ACA’s mandates for alleviating and eliminating health care inequities based on, for example, race, color, national origin, language, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, and health literacy.

Essentially, this legal milestone well reflects the admonition of a federal judge in 2015, deciding the first court case alleging Section 1557 discrimination. In her ruling, the judge held that with the passage and later enactment of the ACA, “Thus, Congress likely intended to create a new right and remedy in a new context.”


Bruce L. Adelson, Esq.
Federal Compliance Consulting LLC

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