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Civil Rights Compliance Activities

Published on AidPage by IDILOGIC on Jun 24, 2005

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The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for ensuring that HHS beneficiaries of federally-assisted programs receive benefits without discrimination. These benefits are provided through state agencies, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, medical laboratories, hospitals, day care centers, social service agencies and other providers. Any person who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in the provision of these services because of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex or religion, may file a complaint with OCR, HHS. Individuals may also file complaints of sex discrimination in health training programs receiving Federal financial assistance, and complaints of denials of health care for reasons other than the need and availability of services, by recipients of Hill-Burton grants and loans. OCR also has enforcement responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 1808 of the Small Business Job Protection Act (SBJPA) of 1996. Regarding the ADA, any person who believes that he or she has been denied benefits in health and human services programs and activities conducted by state or local government entities, because of his/her disability, may file a complaint with OCR, HHS. Regarding Section 1808 of the SBJPA, any individual may file a complaint with OCR alleging that an adoption or foster care organization funded by HHS makes placement decisions in violation of Section 1808 of the SBJPA and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Office will investigate complaints and take steps to ensure compliance with applicable civil rights laws. On April 14, 2003, OCR began enforcing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. OCR's activities under the Privacy Rule include: investigating complaints and conducting public education activities that entail outreach to health care providers, clearinghouses and health plans to ensure that they understand their responsibilities under the Rule. Any individual who believes that a person, agency or organization covered under the HIPAA Privacy Rule ("a covered entity") has violated the Privacy Rule may file a complaint with OCR.