What is the Health Care Rights Law & Why is Important for Older Adults?

Everyone should have the right to be treated with respect by their doctors, receive treatment that fits their needs, and get information in a language they can understand. Yet, 1 in 5 transgender older adults report being refused health care because of their gender identity. Throughout their lives, women, LGBTQ people, and limited English Proficient (LEP) older adults face discrimination in health care settings that leads to poorer health outcomes.

In June 2020, the Trump Administration rolled back landmark civil rights protections that were enacted under the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to combat discrimination in health care settings. These changes include eliminating protections for transgender and LGB older adults, removing notices of nondiscrimination and taglines notifying LEP older adults that they have the right to receive important information about their health care in their language, and limiting the scope of insurers and entities required to comply with the law as well as an individual’s ability to seek redress in court.

What can Advocates do to fight against these changes becoming permanent?

HHS has not and cannot change the HCRL or the civil rights laws it incorporates through regulations, and individuals who experience discrimination in healthcare are still protected under the law.

HHS’s Final Rule on the Health Care Rights Law is facing legal challenges, which could delay or prevent them from taking effect. To support this effort, we need your help documenting the harm, including fear and confusion, that these changes cause. Please email us with any issues encountered by your clients or your organization related to language access, access to care for LGBTQ older adults, or other discrimination.

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