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New and Noteworthy

DOJ published two sets of regulations addressing the rights of individuals with disabilities in August 2016. They are final rules implementing the ADA Amendments and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The ADA Amendments Regulations merely incorporates the statutory changes of the ADAAA into the Title II and Title III regulations. The significant provisions of the ADAAA referenced include:

  • The primary issue in ADA cases should be whether entities have complied with obligations under the ADA and whether discrimination has occurred, not the definition of disability;
  • The definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals and the question of whether an impairment is a disability does not require extensive analysis;
  • The definition of the term “substantial limitations” requires a lower degree of functional limitation than prior to the Amendments;
  • Mitigating measures, except eyeglasses and contact lenses, are not considered in assessing whether an individual has a disability; and
  • Persons covered under the “regarded as” provision of the law are not entitled to reasonable modifications.

DOJ also advised that the interpretation of the term disability under Titles II and III must be consistent with the relevant EEOC regulations implementing Title I.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act is applicable to health programs and activities that are recipients of federal financial assistance administered by the Department (HHS) or administered by a Title I (ACA) entity. It prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Therefore, the majority of postsecondary institutions that operate and/or have administrative responsibility for patient treatment facilities have compliance obligations under Section 1557. Significant provisions of the Act require:

  • Publishing nondiscrimination notices and grievance procedures;
  • Providing meaningful access for individuals with limited English proficiency;
  • Providing meaningful access and effective communication to individuals with disabilities; and
  • Designation of a responsible employee to coordinate compliance efforts.

NOTE:Under Section 1557, medical students are merely considered contractors assisting hospital/clinic in performing services.