ASCRS•ASOA and Medical Community Awaiting Additional Guidance from HHS’ Office for Civil Rights to Help Practices Comply with Requirements for Patients with Limited English Proficiency

This week, ASCRS•ASOA participated in a listening session hosted by the American Medical Association (AMA) on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires practices to post statements of nondiscrimination and make accommodations for patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). The session featured representatives from HHS' Office for Civil Rights (OCR), who are responsible for implementing this policy.

As we have reported, covered entities are required to post notices of nondiscrimination and “taglines” that alert individuals with LEP to the availability of language assistance services. Covered entities are defined as any healthcare provider who accepts HHS-directed funds, such as through Medicare Parts A and C; Medicaid; or participates directly in HHS-administered programs such as Medicare Part D or the Health Insurance Marketplace.

HHS requires covered entities to do the following to comply and has provided sample materials:

  1. Post notices and a statement of nondiscrimination.
    • A sample notice of nondiscrimination may be found here.
    • A sample statement of nondiscrimination may be found here.
  2. Determine the top 15 languages spoken in your state by visiting the HHS website.
  3. Post a notice in your practice’s reception area with taglines translated into the top 15 languages spoken in your state, notifying patients they have the right to translation services. Taglines translated into 64 of the top spoken languages may be found here.

The notice of nondiscrimination and the taglines featuring the top 15 languages in the state must be posted prominently at the practice's physical location—preferably at the check-in desk—and on the website. The final rule also requires the taglines to be printed on "significant documents" from the practice, but OCR has not defined specifically what those documents are. We are working to obtain additional guidance from OCR on this requirement

OCR is currently working to develop additional guidance for practices on this issue. ASCRS•ASOA is also developing resources to assist practices. We will keep you updated as new materials are available.

If you need additional information, please contact Jillian Winans, regulatory affairs specialist, at jwinans@ascrs.org or 703-591-2220.