Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act includes new non-discrimination provisions that apply to the healthcare community. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently adopted rules that will apply to most physicians. Most urgent, physicians who are covered by the rule must post a notice of non-discrimination, together with tag-lines for the 15 most-spoken languages in New Jersey, by October 17. Recipients of "federal financial assistance" are covered. This includes any financial assistance that is administered or provided by Health & Human Services. If you treat Medicaid patients on a fee for service basis or through a managed Medicaid plan you are covered by the rule. If you only accept Medicare Part B reimbursement you are not covered by the rule. However, if your practice received Medicare Meaningful Use incentives at the time of an alleged discrimination, then your practice is covered by the rule.
Second, your practice may be required to develop a plan that indicates how the practice will provide meaningful access to language assistance. Certain key documents must be translated for the languages of patients frequently treated.
Third, group practices with 15 or more employees must appoint a compliance officer and establish a grievance procedure.
OCR anticipates that most physicians will be covered by the rule. Note that all of the NJ Medicaid MCOs have these language services available to patients and participating providers. Physicians who are contracted with or have privileges at hospitals may explore whether the hospital's language service providers could be retained.
We are inquiring about whether use of internet based applications will be sufficient, particularly for languages not often spoken. We are also exploring arrangements with outside vendors who may provide services for our members. Watch MSNJ's web site for a sample non-discrimination notice that may be posted in your office. Read a summary of the rule. Read an FAQ for small offices. Read MSNJ's FAQ.