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Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Section 1557 is the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities. Section 1557 builds on long-standing and familiar Federal civil rights laws: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. The Section 1557 statute extends nondiscrimination protections to individuals participating in:

  • Any health program or activity any part of which received funding from HHS
  • Any health program or activity that HHS itself administers
  • Health Insurance Marketplaces and all plans offered by issuers that participate in those Marketplaces.

Section 1557 has been in effect since its enactment in 2010 and the HHS Office for Civil Rights has been enforcing the provision since it was enacted.

On December 31, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued an opinion in Franciscan Alliance, Inc. et al v. Burwell, enjoining the Section 1557 regulation’s prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy on a nationwide basis. Accordingly, HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) may not enforce these two provisions of the regulation implementing these same provisions, while the injunction remains in place. Consistent with the court’s order, HHS OCR will continue to enforce important protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, or disability, as well as other sex discrimination provisions that are not impacted by the court’s order. 

If you believe you have been discriminated against on one of the bases protected by Section 1557, you may file a complaint with OCR.

Issuance of the 2020 Final Rule

On June 12, 2020, HHS OCR announced a final rule revising its Section 1557 regulations.  Read the final rule |  Read the Fact Sheet

Executive Summary of the Final Rule

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*People using assistive technology may not be able to fully access information in these files.  For assistance, contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights at (800) 368-1019, TDD toll-free:  (800) 537-7697, or by e-mailing OCRMail@hhs.gov .

 

Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on June 12, 2020