In 2016, we saw an uptick in lawsuits related to digital accessibility across a growing number of industries, with most of the cases settling out of court. The healthcare sector was no exception, emphasizing the fact that every person, including those with disabilities affecting their ability to access digital services, must have equal access to healthcare.
Accessibility Under the Affordable Care Act
On May 18, a final rule for Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was published in the Federal Register. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a variety of classifications, including disability, and works in conjunction with other Federal anti-discrimination and civil rights legislation. It covers any health programs or activities that receive funding from or are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as health insurance marketplaces and all plans offered by issuers that participate in those marketplaces.
In February 2016, the National Federation of the Blind and other disability advocates filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts claiming that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and their sub-contractors violated the civil rights of blind and low-vision Medicare recipients. Without accessible information, Medicare recipients who are blind or low-vision aren’t able to review their accounts, fill out online forms, or respond to CMS in a timely manner, which could result in loss of benefits or unnecessary disruption of their healthcare.
Accessible Prescription Labels
In December, the Government Accountability Office released a report studying the availability of accessible prescription labels. Thanks to structured negotiation, the following pharmacies announced alternatives to their prescription labels in 2016:
- Kaiser Permanente: In California, blind and low-vision members of Kaiser Permanente can get TalkingRx labels or large-print labels.
- Rite Aid: Rite Aid’s accessible prescription initiative was announced in February 2016. The Talking Pill Reminder is available at its retail stores, but if customers prefer, they can receive ScripTalk labels instead.
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Content provided by Level Access is intended for general information and education. The materials and facts presented do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in the face of pending litigation. If you have specific legal questions, please contact a lawyer.