US Strengthens Disability Protections with HistoricRule

The US Department of Health and Human Services has finalized a rule to strengthen civil rights protections for individuals with disabilities in healthcare settings. The rule, which takes effect in 60 days, clarifies and enforces accessibility standards for medical equipment, websites, and mobile apps.

author-image
Hadeel Hashem
New Update
US Strengthens Disability Protections with HistoricRule

US Strengthens Disability Protections with HistoricRule

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has finalized a historic rule aimed at bolstering protections for individuals with disabilities in healthcare settings. The rule, which takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, clarifies and strengthens civil rights protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Why this matters: This historic rule has far-reaching implications for promoting equal access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities, addressing a long-standing issue that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By strengthening disability protections, this rule can help reduce healthcare disparities and improve health outcomes for millions of Americans with disabilities.

The final rule addresses several crucial areas, including ensuring unbiased medical treatment decisions and providing accessible medical diagnostic equipment such as mammography machines. It also defines accessibility standards for websites and mobile apps, ensuring that digital healthcare platforms are inclusive and accessible to individuals withdisabilities.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra emphasized the significance of this rule, stating, "This rule strengthens the protections afforded by Section 504, a landmark civil rights law, and furthers the Department's commitment to ensuring equal access to this nation's health care system and its social service programs for people with disabilities and their families."

Federal rule is long overdue... By removing barriers to health care and social services, this rule advances justice for people with disabilities who have for too long been subject to discrimination."

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, passed in 1973, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities that receive federal funding. Despite this law, discrimination and inadequate treatment have remained a reality for many people with disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by this community, including denial of medical treatment, inaccessible medical equipment and websites, and institutional settings.

The finalized rule is part of the Biden-Harris Administration's broader commitment to equality and civil rights. It reflects the tireless advocacy of the disability community over the past five decades and the Administration's efforts to combat discrimination and inequities faced by people with disabilities.

This landmark rule marks a significant step forward in promoting equal access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities. By clarifying obligations, setting enforceable standards, and ensuring accessibility across physical and digital healthcare settings, the HHS aims to address the long-standing challenges faced by people with disabilities in receiving adequate medical care. As the rule takes effect in the coming months, it is expected to have a profound impact on advancing equity andprotectingthe civil rights of individuals with disabilities across the United States.

Key Takeaways

  • HHS finalizes rule to strengthen disability protections in healthcare settings.
  • Rule aims to reduce healthcare disparities and improve health outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
  • Protections include unbiased medical treatment, accessible equipment, and inclusive digital platforms.
  • Rule marks a significant step forward in promoting equal access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities.
  • Rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.