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Latest Top (4) News

OCR Issues Bulletin on Civil Rights Laws and HIPAA Flexibilities That Apply During the COVID-19 Emergency

Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a bulletin to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs, including in the provision of health care services during COVID-19.

OCR is particularly focused on ensuring that covered entities do not unlawfully discriminate against people with disabilities when making decisions about their treatment during the COVID-19 health care emergency.

OCR enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act which prohibits discrimination in HHS funded health programs or activities.  These laws, like other civil rights statutes OCR enforces, remain in effect. As such, persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age. Decisions by covered entities concerning whether an individual is a candidate for treatment should be based on an individualized assessment of the patient and his or her circumstances, based on the best available objective medical evidence.

“Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” said Roger Severino, OCR Director.  “HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during an emergency, and helping health care providers meet that goal.” “Persons with disabilities, with limited English skills, and older persons should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies.”  Severino added.

The Bulletin may be found at: https://www.hhs.govhttps://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr-bulletin-3-28-20

Today’s bulletin also reminds health care covered entities of unprecedented HIPAA flexibilities recently made available by OCR in response to the COVID-19 emergency concerning:

For general information regarding COVID-19, please see: https://www.coronavirus.gov/

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 08:00:00 -0400

Secretary Azar Statement on President Trump's Signing of the CARES Act

HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement following President Trump’s signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:

“Congress has responded to the President’s call for ambitious legislation to support our economy and bolster our pandemic response. The CARES Act will protect Americans’ health and economic well-being during these uncertain times by providing broad support for families, individuals, and businesses that are facing hardship. It makes vital investments in the key elements of our public health response to the virus, with more than $100 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers and $27 billion in funds for vaccines, therapeutics, and personal protective equipment. HHS and the administration look forward to working on a strongly bipartisan basis with Congress, as we have been since January, to secure the resources needed to keep Americans safe from the coronavirus.”

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 16:15:00 -0400

Secretary Azar Statement on Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

Today, HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s signing of the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act:

“President Trump has always made the health, well-being, and independence of older Americans a top priority. The President’s signing the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act could not be more timely, as the Trump Administration and all of America mobilizes to protect older adults from the threat of COVID-19. For 55 years, the Act has supported a whole range of services, from home-delivered meals to senior centers and transportation services, that help older Americans live the way they wish in their communities. This week, thanks to legislation signed by President Trump, the Administration for Community Living distributed $250 million in new funding to support these services during the COVID-19 pandemic. As America confronts this unprecedented health threat, the community-based, creative work of the aging networks supported by the Older Americans Act is a model for supporting vulnerable Americans.”

Wed, 25 Mar 2020 19:00:00 -0400

HHS Implements President Trump’s Hoarding Prevention Executive Order

Today, under President Trump’s Executive Order to prevent hoarding of health and medical resources necessary to respond to the spread of COVID-19, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced a list of certain health and medical resources that are subject to hoarding prevention measures.

“President Trump has been unafraid to use every power of the federal government to protect the American people from the coronavirus, from historic quarantines and travel suspensions to invoking the Defense Production Act,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Today, we designated a set of medical products that will be subject to the President’s recent executive order to prevent hoarding and price-gouging. HHS and FEMA will continue working closely together to monitor and address shortages of necessary medical products, and we look forward to working closely with the Department of Justice on hoarding prevention measures. The President will take every possible step to get American healthcare providers the supplies they need to stay safe and save lives.”

President Trump delegated his authority to prevent hoarding of health and medical resources necessary to respond to COVID-19 to Secretary Azar, who is designating a list of health resources or medical resources that are needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19 and are or are likely to be in short supply. This action prevents accumulation in excess of reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption, or for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of prevailing market prices.

The designated materials as of March 25, 2020:

  • N-95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators
  • Other Filtering Facepiece Respirators (e.g., those designated as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, or P95, P99, P100)
  • Elastomeric, air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges
  • Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
  • Portable Ventilators
  • Chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCl
  • Sterilization services for certain medical devices and certain sterilizers
  • Disinfecting devices and other sanitizing and disinfecting products suitable for use in a clinical setting
  • Medical gowns or apparel, e.g., surgical gowns or isolation gowns
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) coveralls, e.g., Tyvek Suits
  • PPE face masks
  • PPE surgical masks
  • PPE face shields
  • PPE gloves or surgical gloves
  • Ventilators, anesthesia gas machines modified for use as ventilators, and positive pressure breathing devices modified for use as ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors, and ventilator accessories

Designated materials are subject to periodic review by the Secretary.

Read the Notice of Designation of Scarce Materials or Threatened Materials.

Wed, 25 Mar 2020 17:45:00 -0400