Why the New Nondiscrimination Protections Are an Important Step Forward for Consumers

By Zachary Baron

As more data is released showing millions gaining health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it’s important to remember that the ACA contains other provisions that stand to benefit everyone in this country (whether newly insured or not). One example is the civil rights provision of the ACA, section 1557, which prohibits discrimination by any health program or activity receiving federal funds on the ground of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

In September, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released proposed regulations concerning this part of the law. As part of Enroll America’s commitment to improving the consumer experience, we offered recommendations for policymakers to ensure that all consumers are best positioned to get covered and stay covered.

Our comments on this regulation focused on several important issues, including:

  • Meaningful Access for People With Limited English Proficiency (LEP): Clearer notices, websites, and non-English taglines on written materials that say where to get in-language assistance can help lift up key details for LEP communities. Enroll America knows how vital in-person assistance is for people, so we also support making sure that consumers can easily understand the availability of interpreters and other language-assistance services.
  • LGBT Equality: Enroll America is proud to have partners that help engage other enrollment stakeholders and LGBT consumers directly in order to get the facts out about their coverage options. We’ve already seen meaningful gains for LGBT people, and applaud new protections, especially those specific to the transgender community.
  • Data Transparency: Strong and accurate data collection will be particularly important to ensuring everyone follows these new rules as well as positioning the enrollment community to better serve diverse communities. We hope HHS adds specific demographic data collection requirements to achieve these goals.
  • Plan Design: Although the ACA significantly improved access to more comprehensive coverage for millions of Americans, with concerns raised that some vital drugs have become difficult to access in the marketplace, such as those that treat HIV/AIDS, HHS should carefully monitor plan design and consider input from stakeholders.

As an organization laser-focused on outreach and enrollment, we recognize that we may not be best suited to recommend answers to all of these issues. That’s why we are glad to partner with such a diverse network of organizations, including those that advocate specifically on behalf of vulnerable and underserved populations.

You can read our full comments on the regulation here. We look forward to HHS finalizing these regulations to build on the tremendous progress already accomplished, so that even more consumers can recognize the peace of mind that comes with comprehensive health insurance and broader access to the health care system.

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