Thursday, July 25, 2013
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services has recently taken a much more aggressive enforcement stance. This has been evident in its enforcement of HIPAA. It is now also evident in enforcement of the Rehabilitation Act against physicians who refuse to treat patients with disabilities. In announcing its action, OCR stated firmly that it is part of a coordinated strategy to improve access to treatment for patients who are HIV positive.
The physician in question is a California neurosurgeon who refused to operate on a patient with HIV. The facts of the case were not contested. The physician was found to have violated the Rehabilitation Act by refusing to treat the patient based on his disability, HIV. The ALJ decision can be found here. The physician has been barred from future Medicaid funding until he can demonstrate compliance with the Rehabilitation Act.
These efforts by OCR are to be welcomed.