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Office of Civil Rights

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The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is the Department's civil rights and health privacy rights law enforcement agency. It investigates complaints, enforces rights, and promulgates regulations, develops policy and provides technical assistance and public education to ensure understanding of and compliance with non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, including:

  • Ensuring that the privacy practices of several million health care providers, plans, and clearinghouses adhere to Federal privacy requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Ensuring that the more than 245,000 recipients of Federal financial assistance comply with the nation's civil rights laws.
  • Enforcing Federal Health Care Provider Conscience Rights.
  • Annually resolving more than 10,000 citizen complaints alleging discrimination or a violation of HIPAA.
  • Annually certifying more than 2,000 new Medicare applications for compliance with U.S. civil rights laws.

OCR has made available on its website guidance and other materials informing the public about the uses to which their personal information may be put and the protections afforded to that information by federal laws. It has also made available guidance to covered entities and their business associates that is intended to promote compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule.

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