Staying Compliant with Section 1557

Posted by Dawn Lunde on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 @ 08:31 AM

Under Section 1557, patients must have access to a nondiscrimination notice in a state's most popular languages.
Under Section 1557, patients must have access to a nondiscrimination notice in a state's most popular languages.

Section 1557 is a component of the Affordable Care Act that requires healthcare providers to make certain information available in languages besides English. Although English is the common tongue in the U.S., there are no languages officially recognized by the U.S federal government. That, combined with some American citizens' and residents' limited proficiency in the language, led to the ACA containing provisions about ease of communication and nondiscrimination components related to the accessibility of healthcare information.

"Section 1557 requires a nondiscrimination notice posted in multiple languages."

Compliance with Section 1557 is Immediately Vital
Section 1557 essentially means providers and facilities need to widely post a notice of nondiscrimination and an associated tagline in the 15 most-used languages in their state. They also must include information noting the availability of help with translation or communication. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said this component of the ACA means "covered entities are required to post notices of nondiscrimination and taglines that alert individuals with limited English proficiency to the availability of language assistance services."

It's important to recognize that compliance isn't something healthcare providers can push off. The specific rule related to language became officially enforceable on Oct. 16, 2016, as pointed out by law firm McGuire Woods, despite Section 1557 becoming part of the law in 2010. Providers that aren't already compliant need to prioritize this need above almost any others. The need for the notice and tagline to be made widely available must also be interpreted as intended. That phrasing means healthcare providers must prominently display the items physically in their facilities, online and in any significant communications or publications.

Noncompliance can lead to hefty fines, with amounts ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 per incident. That's a major financial impact considering how easy it is to achieve compliance and how clear the guidance is in terms of what needs to be done.

It's simple: Healthcare providers need to ensure compliance with Section 1557. To aid that effort, Secure Bill Pay's advanced payment solutions include a language translator for patients paying online. This tool can translate the online bill pay form into 103 different government-defined languages. While your facility will still have to manually post the notification information in each physical location, you can rest easier when it comes to patients paying their bills online.

Tags: Health Care Marketplace

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