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May 2, 2024

Pressley Applauds New Regulations to Strengthen Protections Against Disability Discrimination

Finalized HHS Rules Advances Equity, Bolsters Protections For People With Disabilities Under Section 504 Of The Rehabilitation Act

Pressley Has Long Urged Admin. to Improve Access to Healthcare for Folks with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued a statement applauding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) finalized rule that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. This rule, titled Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities, advances equity and bolsters protections for people with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504).

Rep. Pressley has been a longtime champion for the disability community and recently wrote to the Biden Harris Administration urging the Administration to improve access to healthcare for folks with disabilities.

“The unjust status quo has subjected our neighbors with disabilities to daily injustices,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “This much-needed and long-overdue rule is a historic step forward that will help prevent discrimination for folks with disabilities and help them access healthcare and other services they need and deserve. I’m grateful to Secretary Becerra and the Biden-Harris Administration for heeding advocates’ calls and look forward to working with them to further advance disability justice at the federal level.”

Reflecting over fifty years of advocacy by the disability community, the Section 504 Final Rule clarifies and strengthens civil rights protections for people with disabilities, addresses discrimination in medical treatment, adds enforceable standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment, and ensures accessible web content and mobile apps. The rule advances the promise of the Rehabilitation Act and helps protect people with disabilities from experiencing discrimination in any program or activity receiving funding from HHS because of their disability.

Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive funding from HHS. Since the law was enacted, major legislative and judicial developments have shifted the legal landscape of disability discrimination under Section 504.

More information about the finalized rule is available here.

Rep. Pressley has been a longtime advocate the disability community and has championed policies that promote disability justice.

  • On April 4, Rep. Pressley led her colleagues in urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to strengthen and quickly finalize its proposed rule to improve access to medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) for people with disabilities.
  • On December 12, 2023, Rep. Pressley wrote to the Biden-Harris Administration seeking data on the housing needs for aging adults, people with disabilities, and Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • On September 29, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Cori Bush introduced the Reproductive Health Care Accessibility Act, legislation that would eliminate barriers and strengthen access to reproductive health care for people with disabilities.
  • On June 25, 2022, Rep. Pressley applauded the passage of H.R. 2543, which included several key amendments championed by Rep. Pressley to advance disability and economic justice.
  • On May 24, 2022, in a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing, Rep. Pressley discussed the crisis of Long COVID as a disability justice issue and outlined how the status quo has relegated disabled Americans—including those with Long COVID—to a second-class standard of living.
  • On April 14, 2020, Rep. Pressley urged Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to rescind the Crisis of Care standards that have disproportionately harmed communities of color and the disability community in Massachusetts.
  • On March 29, 2022, in a historic committee hearing on Medicare for All, Rep. Pressley highlighted Medicare For All as a disability justice issue and questioned Ady Barkan, founder of Be A Hero and leading advocate for Medicare for All, about how tying health coverage to employment perpetuates deep inequities for people with disabilities. 
  • On February 25, 2021, Rep. Pressley, Rep. Katie Porter, and their colleagues introduced the Mental Health Justice Act to reduce violence against individuals with mental illness and disabilities.
  • On March 30, 2021, she led her colleagues on a letter with 107 of their colleagues to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris calling for an historic investment of $450 billion in home- and community-based services (HCBS) in the Build Back Better infrastructure package.
  • On September 18, 2022, Rep. Pressley, Dr. Subini Ancy Annamma, and Villissa Thompson published an op-ed in Teen Vogue in which they called for an end to the policies and systemic injustice that result in the overcriminalization of Black girls with disabilities in schools.
  • On July 29, 2020, Rep. Pressley, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Senators Chris Murphy and Elizabeth Warren unveiled the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act to end the over-policing of K-12 schools and stop the criminalization of students, including those with disabilities.
  • In early 2020, she worked with advocates to challenge Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s crisis standards of care and release updated guidelines with input from the disability community.
  • On October 11, 2019, Rep. Pressley and her colleagues introduced the Improving Access to Higher Education Act to help improve college access and completion for students with disabilities.