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Urgent care operators and any healthcare provider receiving federal funding (including Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare reimbursement) are required to post nondiscrimination notices in public by October 17.

The new federal law is part of the Affordable Care Act and aims to reduce health disparities for some populations that have been most vulnerable to discrimination. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights says physicians must take “appropriate initial and continuing steps” to notify patients of certain information and services related to nondiscrimination.

The law requires facilities to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for individuals with disabilities, and providers must take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with limited English proficiency.

Covered entities are required to post notices of nondiscrimination that alert patients to the availability of language assistance services, including hearing aids, interpretation services, and translated documents. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous physical location in English, and the notices must also be made available (electronically or otherwise) in the top 15 non-English languages spoken in the state. Translated sample notices and taglines are available from the Office of Civil Rights in 64 languages.

[box] An example can be found here. [/box]

The Office of Civil Rights is authorized to investigate complaints and determine whether a covered entity has violated the rule. A provider found in violation may be required to take remedial action to overcome the effects of the discrimination.

“The touchstone for whether a covered entity has met the notice requirements is whether the content is sufficiently conspicuous and visibly that individuals participating in health programs could reasonably be expected to see and read the information,” according to Smith Moore Leatherwood Attorneys at Law.

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