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HHS/OCR RIN: 0945-AA15 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: Rulemaking on Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Critical Health and Human Services Programs or Activities(Rulemaking Resulting From a Section 610 Review) 
Abstract:

This proposed rule would revise regulations under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to address unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability in certain vital HHS-funded health and human services programs. Covered topics include non-discrimination in life-sustaining care, organ transplantation, suicide prevention services, child welfare programs and services, health care value assessment methodologies, accessible medical equipment, auxiliary aids and services, Crisis Standards of Care and other relevant health and human services activities.

 
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
RFA Section 610 Review: Rulemaking Resulting From a Section 610 Review 
CFR Citation: 45 CFR 84   
Legal Authority: sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

To robustly enforce the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability, OCR will update the section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act regulations to clarify obligations and address issues that have emerged in our enforcement experience (including complaints OCR has received), caselaw, and statutory changes under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other relevant laws, in the forty-plus years since the regulation was promulgated. OCR has heard from complainants and many other stakeholders, as well as federal partners, including the National Council on Disability, on the need for updated regulations in a number of important areas, including non-discrimination in life-sustaining care, organ transplantation, suicide prevention services, child welfare programs and services, health care value assessment methodologies, accessible medical equipment, auxiliary aids and services, Crisis Standards of Care and other relevant health and human services activities.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

These regulations are required by law. The current regulations have not been updated to be consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, or the 1992 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, all of which made changes that should be reflected in the HHS section 504 regulations. Under Executive Order 12250, the Department of Justice has provided a template for HHS to update this regulation.

Alternatives:

OCR considered issuing guidance, and/or investigating individual complaints and compliance reviews. However, we concluded that not taking regulatory action could result in continued discrimination, inequitable treatment and even untimely deaths of people with disabilities. OCR continues to receive complaints alleging serious acts of disability discrimination each year. While we continue to engage in enforcement, we believe that our enforcement and recipients’ overall compliance with the law will be better supported by the presence of a clearly articulated regulatory framework than continuing the status quo. Continuing to conduct case-by-case investigations without a broader framework risks lack of clarity on the part of providers and violations of section 504 that could have been avoided and may go unaddressed. By issuing a proposed rule, we are undertaking the most efficient and effective means of promoting compliance with section 504.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The Department anticipates that this rulemaking will result in significant benefits, namely by providing clear guidance to the covered entity community regarding requirements to administer their health programs and activities in a non-discriminatory manner. In turn, the Department anticipates cost savings as individuals with disabilities can access a range of health care services. The Department expects that the rule, when finalized, will generate some changes in action and behavior that may generate some costs. The rule will address a wide range of issues, with varying impacts and a comprehensive analysis is underway.

Risks:

To be determined.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  04/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: Undetermined 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Molly Burgdorf
Section Chief, Civil Rights Division
Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights
200 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20201
Phone:202 357-3411
Email: ocrmail@hhs.gov