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Promoting Equality in Health Care HHS Message of the Day

July 13, 2004

40th Anniversary: To commemorate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, HHS will highlight its efforts to stop discrimination in health care at an event in the Great Hall this morning. Secretary Thompson is leading the Department in an effort to make the promise of equality and non-discrimination in health care a reality.

Equal Opportunity

As we celebrate this anniversary, we are proud of the distance our nation has traveled toward equal opportunity.

At HHS, we are especially proud of activities and efforts to ensure equal access to health and human service programs, regardless of race, color or national origin.

We must rededicate ourselves to furthering the principles of equality, including continuing our multi-faceted approach to eliminating racial and ethnic disparities.

Today’s Event

HHS will hold its official celebration of the Civil Rights Act in the Great Hall of the Hubert Humphrey Building in Washington, DC. It begins at 10 am.

The program was put together under the leadership of the HHS Office on Civil Rights (OCR), which ensures that all Americans have equal access to services in all HHS programs.

  • By preventing and eliminating unlawful discrimination, they help HHS carry out its overall mission of improving the health and well-being of all people.
  • For example, OCR reviews each new applicant to the Medicare program– close to 4,000 each year-- to ensure that each is in compliance with civil rights laws because of the Civil Rights Act.
  • This is part of an overall OCR compliance effort that extends to the more than a quarter of a million programs that receive HHS funds.
  • OCR investigates and resolves the several thousand complaints it receives each year, initiatives compliance reviews, and – equally important – provides outreach, technical assistance, and public education about civil rights.

What To Do

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, disability, age, and in some cases sex or religion, by an entity (recipient) receiving financial assistance from the HHS, you or your representative may file a complaint with OCR.

Complaints must be filed within 180 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act. OCR may extend the 180-day deadline if you can show "good cause." The following information must be provided:

-Your name, address and telephone number. You must sign your name.

-If you file a complaint on someone's behalf, include your name, address, telephone number, and statement of your relationship to that person--e.g., spouse, attorney, friend, etc.

-Name and address of the institution or agency you believe discriminated against you.

-How, why and when you believe you were discriminated against.

-Any other relevant information.

This information should be submitted to the Director, Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Health and Human Services (200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201).

For information, call 202/619-0403 or go to

Last revised: July 26, 2004