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OCR partners with Iowa on disability rights

The agreement was spurred by an investigation into potential violations of patient rights in the State of Iowa.

Jeff Lagasse, Editor

Photo: CatherineFallsCommercial/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has entered into an agreement with the State of Iowa to enforce federal disability rights laws.

The agreement was spurred by an investigation, based on a complaint filed by Garret Frey, who alleged that the State of Iowa violated his rights by failing to provide him with the 24-hour home-based support and services he needed so that he could continue to live at home.

OCR's action was based on three Federal laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Each of these laws requires that services are provided in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of a person with a disability – including within their own home and community, said OCR.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT?

Iowa agreed to participate in OCR's Expedited Complaint Resolution process to work with Frey and the OCR to put in place the full array of support services needed for him to continue to live in his own home.

Specific corrective actions taken by the Iowa State Department of Health and Human Services include raising the provider reimbursement rate, allowing respite services (short-term coverage for primary caregivers), expanding the provider base to enable a sufficient array of providers and securing necessary providers for overnight and nursing services.

OCR will continue to monitor the actions taken by the State of Iowa for six months to ensure that services are stable and adequate for Frey to continue living at home, the agency said.

THE LARGER TREND

OCR said the action is the latest in a series of efforts it has made to advance and protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. This includes the announcement of the final rule and the final rule.

The Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities final rule, enacted last month, clarifies and strengthens civil rights protections for people with disabilities, addresses discrimination in medical treatment, adds enforceable standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment, and ensures accessible web content and mobile apps.

The goal is to protect people with disabilities from experiencing discrimination in any program or activity receiving funding from HHS, the agency said.

More than 61 million Americans had a disability as of 2016, according to a 2022 Health Affairs analysis. Disparities in healthcare access and quality have been observed across many groups of people with disabilities in a variety of clinical environments. Such people also have been found to be less likely to report satisfaction with their care compared with people without disabilities.

Jeff Lagasseiseditor of Healthcare FinanceNews.
Email:jlagasse@himss.org
Healthcare FinanceNews is aHIMSSMedia publication.