Laura Colbert, the executive director of the patient-advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future, is especially concerned about rural patients. Ninety percent of Georgia’s Obamacare customers would be protected from…
Blog (May 2016)
On May 13, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, an important milestone in the movement towards health equity. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in all health programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance through HHS, are administered through HHS, or are established under Title 1 of the Affordable Care Act. As a result, most health insurance plans, facilities, programs, and providers are covered under this rule.
Notably, Section 1557 marks the first time that sex discrimination in health care is prohibited and also clarifies that gender identity and sex stereotyping are included in this definition. Because of these provisions, LGBT Georgians have protections from discrimination in health coverage and care. For specific information on the gender identity and sex stereotyping provisions of Section 1557, see Out2Enroll’s FAQ here. For Georgia-specific information about health insurance options for LGBT Georgians, check out the series of fact sheets that Georgians for a Healthy Future teamed up with Georgia Equality and The Health Initiative to release this past fall.
Discrimination against individuals with limited English Proficiency (LEP) is also prohibited in the health care programs and activities covered by the rule (defined under national origin). More than 1.3 million Georgians have LEP. In addition, the final rule requires effective communications with individuals with disabilities.
If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can file a complaint online with the Office for Civil Rights. If you are an enrollment assister looking for resources to educate the consumers you help about their protections under Section 1557, you can access FAQs and fact sheets from HHS here.
Rural Georgians experience health disparities on multiple dimensions: they are less likely to have job-based health insurance, may have to travel long distances to seek medical care, and experience higher rates of chronic health conditions than their suburban and urban counterparts. Compounding these challenges, several rural hospitals have closed their doors in recent years and others are at risk of closure.
While there are no easy answers to Georgia’s rural health crisis, an array of stakeholders including policymakers, the philanthropic community, health care providers, local community groups, and advocates have been exploring ways to strengthen our state’s rural health infrastructure.
As part of its Two Georgias initiative, the Healthcare Georgia Foundation recently released its findings from a “listening tour” with health care providers and policy organizations in Georgia, including Georgians for a Healthy Future. The report offers a window into what practitioners and policy advocates are thinking about the direction of rural health care and how it can be improved. Check out the write-up to learn more about rural health and about how Georgians for a Healthy Future’s campaign to close the coverage gap in Georgia fits in.
You can stand with us by sharing this infographic with your social network. Use sample tweet: Our rural hospitals are hurting – but it does’t have to be that way. It’s we accept federal to #closethegap.