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Dental Practices Need to Prepare to Meet New ACA Regulations

Updated nondiscrimination regulations under the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557 will take effect on July 5, expanding protections for pregnant and LGBTQI+ individuals in federally funded health programs, including Medicaid in which some dental practices participate. The regulations also introduce provisions for language assistance, nondiscriminatory use of artificial intelligence in patient care, and telehealth services, requiring covered entities to comply by specific deadlines.

Starting July 5, updated nondiscrimination regulations under the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557 will enhance and restore protections for pregnant and LGBTQI+ individuals participating in health programs receiving federal financial assistance. This includes state-based health insurance exchanges and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Issued by HHS on April 26, these final regulations also include new provisions to ensure access for individuals with limited English proficiency, implement nondiscriminatory requirements for artificial intelligence (AI) in patient care, and clarify that nondiscrimination applies to telehealth services.

Dental practices and other healthcare entities involved in certain federal programs must comply with Section 1557’s rules by set deadlines, including posting nondiscriminatory notices by November 5, 2024, with full compliance required by March 2025 or later. These entities cannot deny or limit services based on gender identity, sex assigned at birth, or pregnancy, and must inform participants about available language assistance services, ensuring these notices are effectively communicated to individuals with disabilities.

The new rules also mandate that covered entities make reasonable efforts to identify and mitigate risks of discrimination from tools used in patient care, including AI. The HHS’s Office for Civil Rights will consider factors such as the size and resources of the entity when evaluating compliance efforts.

Additionally, covered entities must have policies for providing language assistance and ensuring effective communication for people with disabilities, with mandatory staff training on these policies required by March 5, 2025. Click here to read more.

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