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Does OCR investigate civil rights complaints against programs that provide free or reduced cost health care?

This is a civil rights FAQ about the types of entities OCR investigates. The target audience is individuals.

Final

Issued by: Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Issue Date: July 07, 1905

Does OCR investigate civil rights complaints against programs that provide free or reduced cost health care?

Yes, the HHS Office for Civil Rights can investigate such complaints if the following conditions are met:

  • The facility receives federal financial assistance from HHS.
  • The alleged discrimination must be on a basis in which we have authority (e.g., race, disability) and the subject matter must be covered by our regulations (e.g., we generally do not accept employment complaints based on race; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission usually handles such complaints). In addition, if the alleged discrimination involves disability, we can accept complaints filed against a state or local government entity providing health or social services even if it does not receive federal financial assistance. We can also accept complaints of disability discrimination in programs conducted by HHS.
  • The complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination, unless a waiver is granted.

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this database lack the force and effect of law, except as authorized by law (including Medicare Advantage Rate Announcements and Advance Notices) or as specifically incorporated into a contract. The Department may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on the guidance repository, except to establish historical facts.