DOJ and HHS Challenge Steerage on ‘Lengthy COVID’ and Incapacity Rights Beneath the ADA, Part 504, and Part 1557 | OPA
Today, to mark the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Department of Health (HHS) are jointly publishing guidance on how “long COVID” can be a disability under ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The guidelines can be found on the DOJ website at https://www.ada.gov/long_covid_joint_guidance.pdf – PDF and on the HHS website at https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/ civil-rights -covid19 / index.html.
Some people continue to experience symptoms that can last weeks or months after they first develop COVID-19. This can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if the initial illness was mild. People with this condition are sometimes referred to as “long distance drivers” – and the condition they have is known as “long COVID”.
With the emergence of COVID as an ongoing and significant health concern, the DOJ Civil Rights Division and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have partnered to provide these new guidance. This guide explains that COVID can be a disability under ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973 and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and explains how those laws can apply. Each of these federal laws protect people with disabilities from discrimination. This guide also includes resources for additional information and best practices.
“The ADA is one of our most transformative civil rights laws, helping our schools, courthouses, town halls, shops and workplaces to be open to everyone, regardless of their disability,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, Justice Department Civil Rights Department. “On this anniversary, we recognize the ongoing challenges to full equality, including the devastating and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. With many of our neighbors having long-term effects from COVID-19, we are committed to ensuring people understand their rights under state anti-discrimination laws. The Justice Department will vigorously enforce the ADA and other federal civil rights laws to ensure the nation responds and recovers from COVID-19 and that people with disabilities are full and equal partners in that recovery.
“Some people recover quickly from COVID, but others experience crippling long-term impairments that severely limit vital life activities,” said acting director Robinsue Frohboese of the HHS Office of Civil Rights. “Today’s guidelines make it clear that these people are entitled to equal opportunities and full participation in all aspects of life. We are honoring the 31st anniversary of ADA, a law that provides “a clear and comprehensive national mandate to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities,” and we deepen our commitment to enforcing federal civil rights law. OCR is committed to promoting the principles of non-discrimination and equality and will continue to provide guidance to help consumers understand their rights and providers to meet their obligations. ”
“It is critically important that we ensure that people with disabilities due to prolonged COVID are aware of their rights under federal non-discrimination laws,” said Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary Alison Barkoff on Aging with the Administration for Community Living at HHS. “It is also critical that they know how to connect to available services and support if they need support now to live in their own homes, go to school or work, or get involved in their communities . ”
This guide was released by the White House this morning, along with a directory of resources available through Administration for Community Living (ACL) funded programs, as part of a comprehensive resource pack for people with long-term COVID that can be found here: https : //www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/07/26/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-marks-anniversary-of-americans-with-disabilities-act-and -announced -Resources-to-support-people-with-long-covid at /.
The ACL resource directory for people with long COVID can be found at: https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19/ACL_LongCOVID.pdf – PDF.
This guide is one of many measures HHS has taken over the past few months to address the longstanding COVID problem. In February, HHS launched a new initiative to research long-term COVID. Led by NIH, the goal of the initiative is to learn more about how COVID-19 can lead to widespread and persistent symptoms and to develop ways to treat or prevent these symptoms. In addition to the initiative, HHS held long COVID listening sessions with health advocates through the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and OCR, and NIH held a workshop with experts to identify key knowledge gaps about the disease.
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has a page on their ADA.gov website that discusses issues related to COVID-19 and the ADA: https://www.ada.gov/emerg_prep.html.
OCR has a website on COVID-19 and civil rights issues: https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/civil-rights-covid19/index.html.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has a post-COVID page that has long been discussing COVID: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html .
More ACL resources and information on COVID-19 for people with disabilities can be found at: https://acl.gov/COVID-19.
ACL and OCR have teamed up to create a website that tells the story of the origins of ADA, shows some of the strides we have made as a country in delivering on its promise, and illustrates a little of the work of ACL and OCR. as well as other partners within HHS and across government. This website can be found at: https://acl.gov/ada.
If you believe that you or someone else has been discriminated against by an ADA entity, you can file a complaint with the Department of Disability Rights (DRS) at the Department of Justice. Information on how to file a complaint can be found at: https://www.ada.gov/fact_on_complaint.htm.
If you believe that you or someone else has been discriminated against by an entity that falls under federal citizenship laws, you can file a complaint with OCR. Information on how to file a complaint can be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints.