Comments: Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities

The Medicare Rights Center (Medicare Rights) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule, “Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities.” Medicare Rights is a national, nonprofit organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives. Each year, Medicare Rights provides services and resources to over three million people with Medicare, family caregivers, and professionals.

The Health Care Rights Law (HCRL) found in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the health law’s key nondiscrimination provision. It clarifies how important civil rights statutes specifically apply to health care, better protecting older adults, people with disabilities, and marginalized communities from discrimination. The HCRL prohibits discrimination in health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, health programs and activities administered by the executive branch, as well as entities created under the ACA, including the Marketplaces and health plans sold through the Marketplaces. Its protections extend to discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, color, and national origin—including language access—by building on existing civil rights laws. Importantly, it is the first federal law to ban sex discrimination in health care.

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