Action Required: Agencies Need to Comply with a New Federal Rule Regarding Discrimination

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2016 12:45 PM

A new federal requirement was issued in May by HHS’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR), stating that agencies need to post information on their website and office about how patient’s will not be discriminated against and language assistance will be offered.

According to attorney Elizabeth Pearson of Pearson & Bernard in Edgewood, KY, “it will take time to update forms and websites, but it’s important for agencies to do so — OCR and surveyors will pay close attention to whether agencies are in compliance.”

Each agency is required to do the following actions:
1. Post taglines that explain language assistance is available at your agency

” These will be provided “in at least the top 15 languages spoken by individuals with
limited English proficiency of the relevant state or states.”

You’ll also be expected to include the statements within “significant publications.” It’s not clearly explained what’s considered “significant.” But when the publications you
produce are brochures or postcards, you’ll only need the statements posted in two languages, according to OCR.

2. Create a “written language access plan”

Under the rule, OCR deflected specific language translation requirements, requiring only “reasonable steps” to accommodate LEP patients. But the OCR Director may “evaluate” your compliance according to “relevant factors,” including “an effective written language access plan.

Take the following steps immediately
• Provide patients with contact information for agency employees that handle discriminatory issues
• Determine the 15 languages that makes sense to use as a guideline for patients
• Creating a new tab on your agency’s website for patient rights
• Update any brochures or postcards that were already given to current and potential patients

For the full article, please see the September 26, 2016 Home Health Line Edition.

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