For Immediate Release: September 7, 2023
Contact: Jess Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org; 970-631-6829
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The proposed rule Promotes Nondiscrimination in Health Care and Human Services for Persons with Disabilities and, when finalized, will mark an incredible advancement in disability civil rights.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a law that prevents discrimination based on disability by entities that receive federal funding. The Biden-Harris Administration’s proposed rule expands Section 504 by doing the following:
- Prohibiting disability discrimination in medical care and treatment, prohibiting discrimination based on biases or stereotypes about individuals with disabilities, judgments that an individual will be a burden on others, or beliefs that the life of an individual with a disability has less value than the life of a person without a disability.
- Prohibiting disability discrimination in value assessments used to determine appropriate prices for healthcare goods and services and under what circumstances they will be offered to the public.
- Ensuring digital accessibility for web, mobile app, and informational kiosks in medical settings
- Adopting the recently announced US Access Board Accessible Diagnostic Medical Equipment Standards and requiring compliance with these standards within 2 years of the rule’s finalization
- Applying Section 504’s integration mandate to all recipients of federal funding, including hospital systems
- Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability against adults and children within the child welfare system
- Reinforcing multiple standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, including for service animals and mobility devices
Maria Town, AAPD President and CEO, said of the announcement, “I am thrilled by today’s announcement from HHS. Once enacted, this rule will be one the most substantial federal advancements towards health equity and access for disabled people in American history.”
Town continued, “Despite the fact that people with disabilities are more reliant on our health care and human services systems and experience some of the greatest healthcare costs, our healthcare system routinely discriminates against disabled people in a multitude of ways. From inaccessible doctors’ offices and examination equipment, to a lack of access to effective communication, to physicians who believe that people with disabilities have an inherently lower quality of life than those without disabilities and base treatment decisions off of this inaccurate bias. All of these barriers translate into disparities for disabled people that result in disabled people having shorter lifespans being more likely to die from preventable conditions.”
“Today’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, when finalized, will not only improve equitable healthcare for disabled people, it will be lifesaving and result in a health and human services system that works better for all Americans. We look forward to its swift finalization and enforcement.”
The proposed rule will be published shortly the Federal Register, and the community will then be invited to comment. AAPD will submit a comment, and strongly encourages other organizations and members of the community to submit comments as well.