The Biden administration has been pushed to address disability discrimination in health care.


Disability advocates are warning that time is running out for the Biden administration to enact new Section 504 regulations. (Thinkstock)

More than two years after federal officials announced they would revise rules to protect medical providers from discrimination, advocates say the clock is ticking.

Disability advocates are pressing the US Department of Health and Human Services to take immediate action on updating regulations related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

“The Section 504 regulations have not been reformed for decades and do not adequately address the issues facing people with disabilities today,” the 30 advocacy groups wrote together. Latest letter To Susan E. Rice, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Melanie Fontes Rainer, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “If notice of the proposed rulemaking is not issued soon, we are concerned that there will not be sufficient time for meaningful comment and response before the end of the administration’s first term.”

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By 2021, HHS Submitted a request for information On disability discrimination in health care and child welfare systems. At the time, officials said that while Section 504 prohibits disability discrimination, the agency knew that “substantial discrimination” persisted in both arenas.

More recently, advocates have pointed to discrimination in organ transplants, problems in healthcare delivery during a crisis, inaccessible medical equipment, communication issues and more in hearings and in letters to HHS last year.

Rachel Klugman, senior counsel for communications at the HHS Office of Civil Rights, said she could not comment on Seger’s plans to update the 504 regulations, but she did suggest one. advertisement According to the agency’s uniform agenda from last year, a proposal is expected by March 2023.

“The current regulations have not been amended to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Amendments Act of 1992, all of which changes must be reflected in HHS section 504,” the notice states. “We conclude that failure to take regulatory measures can lead to continued discrimination, unfair treatment and even the sudden death of people with disabilities.”

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