Update on Section 1557
Another provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), not previously disclosed,
surfaced in July, directing health care professionals to comply with new laws
prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, age
or disability. The law is known asSection 1557 of the ACA, and is in addition to
civil rights protection available under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA was unable to eliminate dentists from certain sections of the new law,
nor was the ADA able to delay implementation because it was an interpretation
of the law by regulators – specifically, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The ADA
will help dentists comply with the new law. Compliance is required if a dentist
receives reimbursement from Medicaid, Medicare or CHIP.
As well as other health care practitioners, Section 1557 changes how dentists
interact with patients who are deaf and hard of hearing, and patients with limited
English proficiency, which means they are not fluent in English. Dentists are to
take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to an interpreter or translator
when providing services to these patients should the patient have the need of an
interpreter or translator.
WVDA is exploring the availability of qualified interpreters or translators. One
such entity is TransPerfect, headquarter in Arizona, which operates worldwide
providing a full range of linguistic interpretation solutions to medical providers.
Their service would allow a dentist, for example, to call TransPerfect and engage
an interpreter in a three-way conversation between the dentist, patient and the
interpreter. The cost of this service has not been determined.
WVDA will keep members informed of this issue, as will the ADA.