Advocacy groups, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continue to challenge what they see as significant obstacles to health care for people with disabilities.

Most significantly, the new Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative – a partnership between DOJ and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices – targets enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act in what DOJ calls a critical area for people with disabilities. DOJ entered into 18 agreements with health care providers within a year of announcing the initiative in July 2012 and more are coming.

ADA One can help you avoid or respond to complaints from advocates or DOJ through guidance, training, and assessments such as self-evaluations or gap analyses.

But there is much that can be done in advance to avoid or lessen the impact of such issues. As health care entities, experts, and government enforcement agencies have found, the best way to avoid problems and ensure compliance in the first place is by having an effective compliance program. This means not just a program on paper, but a meaningful, dynamic program, compete with systems and structures to ensure that the entity is in compliance — and set to stay in compliance — with all applicable laws and regulations. This requires —

  • support from top leadership, to ensure that any change becomes a cultural one;
  • individuals who are accountable for overseeing the program;
  • written policies and procedures addressing all applicable requirements;
  • training of staff throughout the organization on all aspects of the compliance program;
  • periodic internal monitoring or audits as a check to see how the program is operating;
  • a system to detect and investigate problems when they occur; and
  • the development of corrective action plans when any serious issues are spotted. [See, e.g., Compliance Guidance. ]

ADA One’s consultants have experience with these types of compliance programs, and they can provide further guidance to ensure that health care entities are doing the right thing, complying with all applicable laws and regulations, and ensuring quality health care to all of their patients, including those with disabilities.