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May 30, 2019

HHS Releases Section 1557 Proposed Rule

On May 24, HHS issued a proposed rule that, if finalized, would dramatically alter the implementation and enforcement of section 1557 of the ACA.  Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits discrimination under civil rights laws for any health program or activity that receives federal financial assistance (“FFA”).   HHS issued final regulations implementing section 1557 in 2016.  HHS believes that “the Final Rule exceeded its authority under Section 1557, adopted erroneous and inconsistent interpretations of civil rights law, caused confusion, and imposed unjustified and unnecessary costs.”  The agency proposes to narrow the scope of covered entities; eliminate the current definitions, including the definition of “sex discrimination” that included gender identity and termination of pregnancy; and eliminate certain notice and tagline requirements.  HHS also proposes a religious and conscious exemption, which aligns with the religious conscience final rule published on May 21.  The agency proposes to make “conforming amendments” to ten other HHS regulations.