The HHS Office for Civil Rights and CMS recently issued a Final Rule updating Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to enhance protections against discrimination in healthcare regarding race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability. The Final Rule particularly emphasizes protections against discrimination against LGBTQI+ Americans. The Rule also focuses on helping patients with limited English proficiency (LEP), improving physical and digital accessibility of healthcare services, and addresses bias in health technology.

A guiding theme of the Final Rule was protecting patients from bias when using AI in health care. With AI’s rapid proliferation in healthcare, many are concerned that these tools are not designed to avoid discrimination or racial/ethnic bias. This Rule aims to ensure AI tools have protocols in place to identify and mitigate bias and discrimination. This aspect of the Final Rule acts on President Biden’s Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.

Another main theme of the Final Rule is telehealth. It clarifies that telehealth must be accessible to individuals with LEP and to those with disabilities free of charge. Notably, the rule generally defines telehealth as the utilization of electronic data and communication technologies to facilitate remote delivery of clinical healthcare, as well as educational initiatives for both patients and professionals, along with activities related to public health and healthcare administration. This includes various technologies such as audio-video conferencing, internet platforms, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and wireless communication primarily in audio format.

ADVOCATE will share additional information with clients and friends as it becomes available on this and other Federal Health Policies.


Kirk Reinitz, President