Florida Health Center Fails to Provide Auxiliary Aides and Services to Caretaker, Settles with HHS
As of May 10, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with a Florida healthcare clinic to resolve a disability discrimination complaint based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The complaint was filed by an individual who is deaf and hard of hearing, alleging that the healthcare center where her husband was being treated failed to provide her with auxiliary aids and services when she requested an interpreter be present for her while she attended her husband’s post-surgical medical appointment, as his companion.
The OCR enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, two federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in programs receiving Federal financial assistance.
OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer said, “Ensuring patient safety is at the heart of providing care in a quality and ethical manner. It should not take a federal investigation for a health care provider to provide an interpreter so that a patient’s caregiver can understand important information, such as a post treatment plan. We are seeing case after case involving health care providers who fail in their responsibility under federal civil rights laws to provide effective communication to patients and their caregivers. This action supports OCR’s efforts to promote community integration by removing barriers to receiving services in the community. OCR will continue to take robust enforcement action until we make it clear that health care providers must remove unnecessary barriers and provide equal treatment for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.”