Does Section 1557 apply to solo doctor offices?
The final rule requires all covered entities to post a notice of consumer civil rights; covered entities with 15 or more employees are also required to have a civil rights grievance procedure and an employee designated to coordinate compliance. Under a new requirement, covered entities are required to post information telling consumers about their rights and telling consumers with disabilities and consumers with limited English proficiency (LEP) about the right to receive communication assistance. They are also required to post taglines in the top 15 languages spoken by individuals with LEP in the states in which the covered entity operates, advising consumers of the availability of free language assistance services.
Covered entities include health care providers. According to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in the Final Rule:
There are numerous ways in which health services providers are recipients in their own right, whether the Federal financial assistance they receive comes through certain Medicare payments, Medicaid payments, or other funds from the Department. Therefore, instead of falling outside of Section 1557's purview, many health care providers will be subject to Section 1557 irrespective of their relationship to issuers receiving Federal financial assistance.
Notice of nondiscrimination: Must be placed in conspicuous physical locations where the entity interacts with the public and in a conspicuous location on the covered entity's website accessible from the home page of the covered entity's website.
Further, to minimize the burden on covered entities, OCR has prepared a model notice and model nondiscrimination statement that covered entities can use if they choose to do so; covered entities are free to create their own notices or statements if they wish. It's important to note that: A covered entity may combine the notice's content with the content of other notices if the combined notice clearly informs individuals of their civil rights under Section 1557 and this regulation.
Based on the facts restated above, in our opinion and this is by no means legal advice, covered entities, including healthcare providers, who receive "Federal financial assistance" are required to post a notice of nondiscrimination and taglines of the top 15 languages spoken by an individual with LEP in your State. We have created a sample notice for your review (see attached). You are welcome to develop your own version or use this one as a template. We would recommend posting the information on your website where you post your notice of privacy practices (NPP) and in your facility. For example, post next to your patient bill of rights, NPP, or in a clear folder that can be viewed where patients check-in. The notice of nondiscrimination and taglines should be posted no later than October 17, 2016.
In addition, we will be covering these requirements in our October 5th Compliance Insider newsletter.
If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact us.