Federal Nondiscrimination Regulation Imposes Key Requirements on Pharmacies

WASHINGTON, DC – Beginning July 18, pharmacies will be required to abide by rules that regulate discriminatory behavior and practices, such as refusing to provide adequate language assistance services to customers with limited English proficiency or refusing to dispense medications for gender transitions. Infractions under the regulation, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Office of Civil Rights (OCR), could result in civil lawsuits against pharmacies.  To help pharmacists adhere to the Nondiscrimination Regulation, APhA has developed an overview of requirements and a more detailed summary that highlights key aspects of the rule and requirements relevant to pharmacists.

The rule, which implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination, requires health care entities receiving federal financial assistance, such as those that accept Medicaid and Medicare, to engage in practices designed to prevent discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, nationality, or gender, including gender identity.

At the heart of the rule are requirements that pharmacies take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with limited English proficiency or a disability, particularly the blind and deaf. Measures to address this include requiring pharmacies to display posters and notices informing patients that it will make available language assistance to patients who need it. HHS will make the notices available online, which will already be translated into several languages to ease costs and help health care entities comply.

In addition to providing free services and materials for people with limited English proficiency or disabilities, other steps that a health care entity has to comply with as part of its financial assistance application include proof that it is informing the public on how to obtain aids and services, contact methods for the employee responsible for compliance, the availability of a grievance procedure, and OCR’s contact information for discrimination complaints.

“APhA appreciates efforts to improve access and patient involvement in their care,” said Thomas Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, American Pharmacists Association Executive Vice President and CEO. We encourage pharmacists to review the requirements of the rule and consider working collaboratively to consider solutions to satisfy the requirements of the rule.”

To learn more about the nondiscrimination measures, please go to the Final Rule.

CONTACT: Chad Clinton

202.429.7558; cclinton@aphanet.org

About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 63,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.