Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act: Prohibition Against Discrimination for Refusal to Provide Assisted Suicide Services
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act. The law puts into place comprehensive health insurance reforms that will hold insurance companies more accountable and will lower health care costs, guarantee more health care choices, and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans.
The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals or institutional health care entities that do not provide assisted suicide services.
Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act states that:
(a) In General - The Federal Government, and any State or local government or health care provider that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act) or any health plan created under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act), may not subject an individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the entity does not provide any health care item or service furnished for the purpose of causing, or for the purpose of assisting in causing, the death of any individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.
(b) Definition – In this section, the term ‘‘health care entity’’ includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.
(c) Construction and Treatment of Certain Services – Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to apply to, or to affect, any limitation relating to – (1) the withholding or withdrawing of medical treatment or medical care; (2) the withholding or withdrawing of nutrition or hydration; (3) abortion; or (4) the use of an item, good, benefit, or service furnished for the purpose of alleviating pain or discomfort, even if such use may increase the risk of death, so long as such item, good, benefit, or service is not also furnished for the purpose of causing, or the purpose of assisting in causing, death, for any reason.
(d) Administration - The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this section.
How to File a Complaint Under Section 1553: Prohibition Against Discrimination for Refusal to Provide Assisted Suicide Services
If you wish to file a complaint under Section 1553, because you have suffered discrimination on the basis of your refusal to provide health care items or services for the purpose of causing, or assisting in causing, the death of an individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia or mercy killing, you may file a complaint with OCR.
We recommend that you use the Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Form Package. For a complaint under Section 1553, please check “Other” as the basis of the discrimination and write in “Section 1553 (Assisted Suicide).”
You can also request a copy of the complaint form from an OCR regional office. If you need help filing a complaint or have a question about the complaint or consent forms, please review our How to File a Complaint web page or email OCR at OCRMail@hhs.gov.