Top

New HHS Regulation Marks a Historic Leap for Disability Justice

MAY 3, 2024

ALBANY, NY: The Mental Health Empowerment Project (MHEP) commends the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the announcement of the new regulation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, titled “Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities.” This rule marks a pivotal advancement in the battle against disability discrimination, targeting several critical areas to enhance health equity for people with disabilities.

Crafted from the tireless advocacy of the Disability Community over the last half-century, this regulation imposes stringent safeguards against ableist biases in medical decision-making processes. It prohibits decisions based on outdated stereotypes or misconceptions about the societal burden of disabilities, ensuring that medical treatments are administered fairly. The rule also mandates that digital health services and tools meet strict accessibility standards, thus widening access to crucial health information and services.

Additionally, the regulation aligns with the U.S. Access Board’s standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment, like examination tables and mammography machines, and requires that HHS-funded child welfare and adoption agencies offer equitable services to parents and prospective parents with disabilities. This is particularly vital as individuals in the peer community frequently face health disparities and a disproportionate reliance on child welfare services, often resulting from systemic biases and a lack of accessible and affordable community-based resources.

Incorporating the principles of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C., the rule emphasizes the right of individuals with disabilities – including those with psychiatric diagnoses – to receive services in the most integrated settings. This aspect of the rule promotes living, working and receiving support within the community, which is essential for building independence, reducing stigma and institutionalization and promoting recovery.

The Mental Health Empowerment Project recognizes the transformative impact of this regulation on the peer community. Our community is especially vulnerable to the inequities that this rule addresses. By ensuring that systems are inclusive and equitable, the regulation not only protects but also empowers our community, reaffirming our right to equitable treatment and fostering environments where we can thrive and effectively advocate for coordination across systems. This regulation is a crucial step forward in securing the health, dignity and rights of our community, setting a new standard for accessibility and equity in health and human services.

____________

New Rule Makes it Easier for People with Disabilities to Visit the Doctor (Kaiser): https://kffhealthnews.org/morning-breakout/new-rule-makes-it-easier-for-people-with-disabilities-to-visit-the-doctor/?utm_campaign=KHN%3A%20Daily%20Health%20Policy%20Report&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–ZXi0WRvsZmyXuIRik5gu8Wp9Ku1uwRw522-CAAbn5DeIdiwaxE3mo9K_vaL88PoSl1B8UBlSXtOtzn4rTLgmHfsm3bg&_hsmi=305493504&utm_content=305493504&utm_source=hs_email

Read the Press Release about the new regulations from HHS here: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2024/05/01/hhs-finalizes-rule-strengthening-protections-against-disability-discrimination.html#:~:text=Section%20504%20prohibits%20discrimination%20on,disability%20discrimination%20under%20Section%20504.

Read more about Olmstead here: https://mhepinc.org/olmstead-and-the-house-of-cards-it-stands-upon/

Read this on MHEP’s website: https://mhepinc.org/new-hhs-regulation-marks-a-historic-leap-for-disability-justice/

Read all of MHEP’s Commentary here: https://mhepinc.org/commentary