HHS FY2015 Budget in Brief

Department of Health and Human Services
Office of the Secretary, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

The Office for Civil Rights ensures equal, nondiscriminatory access to and receipt of all HHS services and the protection of privacy and security of health information, thereby contributing to HHS’s overall mission of improving the health and wellbeing of all Americans affected by its many programs.

OCR Budget Overview

(Dollars in millions)






Program Level






Full Time Equivalents

2013: 212

2014: 207

2015: 218

2015 +/- 2014: +11

OCR Activities

The FY 2015 Budget for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is $41 million, an increase of $2 million over FY 2014. The increase will support OCR’s centralized case management operations and online complaint system. The Budget supports continued enforcement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule and OCR’s expanded HIPAA responsibilities. OCR evaluates and ensures HIPAA and civil rights compliance through complaint investigations, compliance reviews, audits, resolution agreements, enforcement actions and monitoring, public education, and technical assistance.

Civil Rights

OCR resolves nearly 3,000 discrimination complaints annually and enforces various federal civil rights laws and regulations that protect against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and religion in HHS funded programs; disability in health care and social service programs of state and local governments; and federal health care provider conscience. Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, OCR also has enforcement authority with respect to race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability discrimination in health programs that receive financial assistance or are administered by HHS or any entity established under Title I of the Affordable Care Act.

Resolution Agreements and Compliance Activities: OCR reviews nearly 3,000 new Medicare applicants a year to assess compliance with federal civil rights requirements. Through formal agreements with 54 health care corporations, OCR ensures ongoing compliance in more than 4,600 facilities that serve over 11 million patients annually.

OCR conducts compliance reviews and provides technical assistance to Critical Access Hospitals, which serve rural and isolated areas, to ensure that language assistance services are available to limited English proficient individuals.

OCR provides technical assistance and education to states to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. OCR disseminates information, creates virtual learning communities, and provides webinars on topics such as housing and Medicaid services that provide individuals with disabilities opportunities to live in their communities.

Health Information Privacy and Security

OCR resolved more than 9,500 complaints of alleged HIPAA violations in FY 2013. OCR’s HIPAA responsibilities continue to expand.

Omnibus Rule:HHS implemented a number of provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The final rule strengthened the HIPAA privacy and security protections by providing individuals new rights to their health information, and by strengthening the government’s ability to enforce the law. The Privacy and Security Rule requirements apply to health care providers, health plans and entities that process health insurance claims. The HITECH Act expands many of the requirements to business associates of these covered entities, such as contractors and subcontractors. Some of the largest breaches reported to HHS have involved business associates. Penalties for noncompliance are increased based on the level of negligence with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per violation. The changes also strengthen the HITECH breach notification requirements by clarifying when breaches of unsecured health information must be reported to HHS.

Monetary Settlements:The HITECH Act authorized OCR to impose civil monetary penalties for HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule violations. OCR collected $4 million in FY 2013 and anticipates $5.5 million in FY 2014. OCR uses collections to support HIPAA enforcement activities.

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