The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shared a list of possible changes to the healthcare system that would impact deaf and hard of hearing people’s ability to healthcare access. The NAD and many other deaf and hard of hearing advocacy organizations oppose their proposals. Together, we filed our comment with HHS
telling them their proposals will not improve but worsen our access to healthcare! I will share a few examples of what HHS proposed: 1) decrease healthcare services who must follow HHS rules protecting people from discrimination because right now the number of healthcare services that require equal access is many they’re proposing to reduce, which means less services that are accessible for deaf and hard of hearing. 2) remove the requirement of letting people know they have the right to request interpreter services or other auxiliary aids and services, how to receive them, and the process to file a complaint when their requests are not met. 3) HHS to seek comment on whether healthcare businesses with less than 15 employees should be excused from providing accommodations. 4) remove requirements on VRI quality standards; which could mean lower quality VRI services. 5) remove our right to sue if we experience discrimination. Keep in mind, I only shared a few examples of what HHS proposed. We are very concerned about this because if accepted, those new changes would remove our current protection from discrimination. Even though we have several federal laws requiring equal access, we still experience denial of medical services simply because of communication barriers! What happens next is that HHS will review the public comments and then issue their Final Rule. We cannot go backwards – deaf and hard of hearing people must have equal access to medical services without any barriers. The HHS should not move forward with their proposed changes.