CommGap International Language Services


How Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act applies to Medical facilities

August 18th, 2017

According to, “The Final Rule, Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities, will help to advance equity and reduce health disparities by protecting some of the populations that have been most vulnerable to discrimination in the health care context.”

It further explains, “Section 1557 builds on long-standing and familiar Federal civil rights laws: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (Age Act). Most notably, Section 1557 is the first Federal civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in all health programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Who and what is covered by this Section?

  1. Any facility, health program or activity, any part of which receives funding from HHS (such as facilities or doctors who accept Medicare or Medicaid);
  2. Any health program administered by HHS;
  3. Health Insurance Marketplaces and issuers that participate in those Marketplaces.

There are specific requirements for non-discrimination and a full description can be found online. See below for link.

Among those guidelines, there is a stipulation for language services. It reads: “Covered entities must take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to each individual with limited English proficiency eligible to be served or likely to be encountered in their health programs and activities. In addition, covered entities are encouraged to develop and implement a language access plan.”

There are specific requirements for facilities with 15 or more employees:

  1. Must have a grievance procedure and a compliance coordinator.
  2. Must post nondiscrimination notice and taglines that alert individuals with limited English proficiency to the availability of language assistance services. CommGap can provide free signage upon request.
  3. Each covered entity must post taglines in at least the top 15 non-English languages spoken in the State in which the entity is located or does business.
  4. Use a qualified interpreter that meets concrete standards and has documented proof of testing to show they are qualified to interpret in a healthcare setting. Testing standards are to include: a. Ethics and confidentiality; b. Proven proficiency in English and another spoken language; c. Ability to accurately and impartially deploy specialized medical terminology and phrasing in both languages.


  1. Covered entities must keep records and submit compliance reports to OCR which include compliance reviews and complaint investigations and how technical assistance and guidance was provided.
  2. Noncompliance and requests that aren’t corrected might end in suspension, termination or refusal to grant or continue Federal financial assistance, referral to Department of Justice or other means authorized by law.

Covered entities are encouraged to develop a language access plan.

For complete information:

Did you know? CommGap offers a comprehensive set of solutions to address these requirements. We will be happy to set up a time to help our clients review how to do this in the most cost effective way. Some of the services and benefits we offer:

  1. Tested and trained interpreters with subject matter specialties. Training is done through nationally recognized programs, one of which we offer in-house.
  2. Over the phone language assessments. We can test your bilingual employees to ensure they meet these standards.
  3. Consulting and training for office staff as part of our comprehensive service.
  4. Signage, language detection and continuous recruitment.
  5. CMS trained and compliant staff. Full confidentiality.

Let us help you! or 801-944-4049


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