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National MS Society Comments on ACA Anti-Discrimination Rules

November 9, 2015

On November 6, 2015 the National MS Society submitted formal comments in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) proposed regulations on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This is the most significant section of the law addressing potential discrimination in health insurance. The Society’s comment stated:
“Given the extraordinary health care and coverage needs experienced by people with MS, the Society pursues public policies that promote access to affordable health coverage and care that are truly adequate to the needs of those diagnosed with the disease. To that end, we have been actively engaged in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in hopes of realizing its full potential for people living with MS and their families. 
The Society strongly supports the proposed rule’s intent to both clarify and codify existing nondiscrimination requirements, and set forth new standards to implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with respect to the prohibition of various forms of discrimination in health programs. However, we believe that additional clarifications as well as strong enforcement are necessary to fully realize the goal of non-discrimination protections in the ACA, especially in combination with existing health and disability laws and rules. As a member of both the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation (CPR), the Society supports their comprehensive recommendations and applauds the efforts of disability rights advocates in championing the unfinished work of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Affordable Care Act on behalf of people with disabilities. Due to their particular relevance to people with MS and their families, the Society appreciates this opportunity to underscore the following CCD recommendations.”
Additionally, the Society joined over 176 organizations in signing onto the “I Am Essential” Coalition’s letter urging HHS to further define ‪ ‬ discrimination in health insurance benefits, especially as they apply to prescription drugs. The coalition agrees that the ACA proposed nondiscrimination rule does not go far enough to address access barriers facing patients living with chronic conditions. The letter was sent to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell urging the Office of Civil Rights to better define discriminatory practices in the final ACA nondiscrimination rule.‬‬‬
The National MS Society continues to monitor the recommendations will report any updates here

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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