U.S. Department of Labor Updates Regulation To Improve Veterans’ Access to Health Care
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will publish the Final Rule, “Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Federal Contractors and Subcontractors: TRICARE Providers” in the Federal Register.
The rule removes TRICARE providers from OFCCP’s authority, providing two bases for doing so. First, the rule explains OFCCP’s reconsidered legal position that the agency lacks authority to regulate healthcare providers solely because they participate in TRICARE. The rule also, in the alternative, establishes a national interest exemption for TRICARE providers.
“This deregulatory action aims to improve access to medical care for veterans and their families, increase cost savings for TRICARE providers and allocate the agency’s limited resources more efficiently. The final rule will provide greater uniformity, certainty and notice to TRICARE providers of their legal obligations,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Craig Leen.
TRICARE providers with a separate federal contract or subcontract that meets the thresholds embedded in OFCCP’s laws and regulations will remain under OFCCP’s enforcement authority. TRICARE providers also remain subject to all other applicable federal, state and local laws prohibiting discrimination and providing for equal employment opportunity.
OFCCP did not adopt any regulatory changes related to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Benefit Provider (VAHBP) agreements in the final rule. In response to comments regarding the benefits of a uniform approach to all government healthcare plans, OFCCP plans to issue sub-regulatory guidance on FEHBP providers and VAHBPs to provide certainty and clarity.
OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. Collectively, these laws prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. Additionally, contractors must act affirmatively to ensure equal employment opportunity in their employment processes, and they must not discriminate against applicants or employees because they inquire about, discuss or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.
For more information, please call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.