The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 2010 ADA Amendments Act along with Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. (42 U.S.C. §§12101 et seq. (1990) and 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.). These laws apply to the programs delivered through the Marketplace, the federally conducted Marketplace infrastructure, and to the organizations that will assist consumers to learn about their healthcare insurance options. They also apply to the operation of healthcare services and programs. (See “HHS Guide to Working with People with Disabilities” for a detailed explanation of the ADA.) Another federal law, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires any electronic information technology (EIT) products or services that are “developed, procured, maintained, or used” by the Federal Government to be accessible to persons with disabilities. (29 U.S.C. § 798). Section 508 applies to the federal Healthcare Insurance Marketplace. In addition, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act also prohibits discrimination in programs that are established and funded by the ACA. (42 U.S.C. § 1557 et seq. (2010)). Taken together, these laws ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to access and participate effectively in the services provided by the Marketplace. They require that the Marketplace website meet accessibility standards, establish standards for physical accessibility of facilities where people with disabilities will be served or employed, and identify specific types of accommodations they may require to participate effectively in the marketplace.
In addition to federal laws, regulations issued by HHS governing the operation of the Marketplace also recognize that people with disabilities require accessible information technology, facilities, and accommodations in order to participate in and benefit from the information available through the Marketplace. HHS therefore has called for an accessible infrastructure that empowers people with disabilities to obtain the vital information they require to act as informed consumers of health insurance. The regulations require that the Marketplace operated by HHS and non-navigator assistance personnel funded through an Exchange Establishment Grant:
• Ensure that any consumer education materials, websites, or other tools utilized for consumer assistance purposes be accessible to people with disabilities including those with sensory impairments, such as visual or hearing impairments, and those with mental illness, addiction, and physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities
- Provide auxiliary aids and services for individuals with disabilities, at no cost, when necessary or when requested by the consumer to ensure effective communication
- Provide assistance to consumers in the location and in a manner that is physically and otherwise accessible to individuals with disabilities
- Ensure that authorized representatives are permitted to assist an individual with a disability to make informed decisions
- Acquire sufficient knowledge to refer people with disabilities to local, state, and federal long-term services and supports programs when appropriate
- Be able to work with all individuals regardless of age, disability, or culture, and seek advice and experts when needed. (78 Fed. Reg. 42,824, 42,859 (July 17, 2013) (to be codified at 45 C.F.R. pt. 155)).