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News & Press: Government Affairs News

OCR Language Requirement Due Soon

Tuesday, September 20, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bradley Coffey, MA, AAOE Government Affairs
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Washington, DC - On May 13, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a final rule on nondiscrimination in healthcare to implement Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Section 1557 prohibits discrimination  on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability and any health program or activity receiving funding from HHS (state Medicaid agencies included), any health program or activity that HHS administers (Medicare and Indian Health Service included), and any Health Insurance Marketplaces and plans offered by insurers that participate in those Marketplaces are required to comply with Section 1557's nondiscrimination requirement by October 16, 2016.

Under this requirement, a covered entity (meaning any entity that accepts Medicare or Medicaid [entities that only accept Medicare Part B are excluded however, if an entity accepts Medicare Part B and receives incentive payments from a Medicare program such as meaningful use, they are a covered entity and will be required to comply]) must post signs in their office in a "conspicuously visible font size" in any significant publications and communications targeted to beneficiaries. The notice must also be posted in any conspicuous physical location where the entity interacts with the public (i.e. in a waiting room) and it must also be posted in a conspicuous location on the entity's website accessible from the home page.

As part of these communications, the entity must include taglines in the 15 most spoken languages in the entity's state identifying that language assistance is available. OCR has made samples available on its website and has the required taglines in 64 languages to help your practice comply with this requirement. Practices of all size are required to post this notice and the accompanying taglines. To help members comply, an AAOE member has made available his practice's sign for the state of Texas.

There has been some confusion among AAOE members regarding whether two or 15 taglines are required. According to the final rule, two taglines for the top two most spoken languages other than English are required for small-size significant publications such as "tri-fold brochures, pamphlets, and postcards". Practices must still post the 15 taglines in their office and on their website.

To determine your state's top 15 spoken languages, OCR has provided a list of them here. As always, consult with your attorney or compliance company to determine if you are affected by these new requirements however, OCR has estimated that most facilities will  be impacted by these requirements.

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