HSS nondiscrimination rule imposed on health care providers

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) and its Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued regulations regarding discriminatory behavior and practices when serving pharmacy customers. 

The rule goes into effect on July 18.

The HSS rule implements the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 1557. This rule prohibits health care providers that accept federal funds from HSS, such as Medicaid and Medicare, from discriminating against customers. The rule includes pharmacies. The nondiscrimination rule includes race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sex stereotypes, disability or age. As part of the rule, pharmacists cannot refuse to fill prescriptions for patients undergoing gender transitions.

Under the Final Rule issued in May, pharmacies must provide help to customers with limited English skills or disabilities that hinder their ability to communicate with the pharmacist. Posters and notices that inform customers of language assistance availability must be displayed in prominent places. To ease the transition for pharmacies, HSS is providing printable notices online that are already translated into several languages. 

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has developed an overview and detailed summary of the requirements that affect pharmacists to ensure that pharmacies comply with the nondiscrimination regulation. Pharmacies that fail to comply with the rule risk grievances and civil lawsuits.

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American Pharmacists Association 2215 Constitution Ave NW D.C., DC 20037