Black Historical past Month; Recognizing Contributions and Persevering with the Combat Towards Well being Inequities

As we have fun Black Historical past Month, we replicate on the function of my workplace, the U.S. Division of Health and Human Providers (HHS) Workplace for Civil Rights (OCR), in advancing racial fairness and remaining dedicated to the enforcement of federal civil rights legal guidelines to make sure nondiscrimination based mostly on race, shade, and nationwide origin.  This month and all year long, our workplace acknowledges the numerous contributions of Black Individuals, the historic struggle for equality, and the work forward to handle Health inequities for Black Individuals.

President Biden mirrored on his dedication to fairness and variety in a Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2024. The President acknowledged the huge contributions and developments made by Black Individuals and that “Black historical past is American historical past.”

At HHS, OCR contributes to this mission by main the Division’s work on nondiscrimination and by working to advertise higher Health entry and outcomes for folks of shade and different underserved communities.  That is mirrored in our persistent enforcement of federal civil rights and privateness legal guidelines to safeguard our providers from discrimination, bias, and boundaries.

A few of OCR’s latest efforts embrace:

Strengthening Nondiscrimination in Health Care

OCR issued a proposed rule revising Part 1557 of the Reasonably priced Care Act (Part 1557) that features sturdy provisions to guard folks from discrimination and helps the Biden-Harris Administration’s precedence of advancing Health fairness and civil rights. Part 1557 prohibits discrimination on the premise of race, shade, nationwide origin, intercourse, or incapacity in sure Health applications or actions and is without doubt one of the authorities’s strongest instruments for making certain nondiscriminatory entry to Health Care. OCR is working to finalize the Rule.


Black Maternal Health: OCR is investigating allegations of racism and discrimination in hospitals throughout the nation, together with in one of Los Angeles’ wealthiest facilities, the place an area lady died from the being pregnant care she had obtained.

Environmental Justice

Lowndes County, Alabama: On Might 4, 2023, OCR and the Division of Justice introduced an interim decision settlement of their environmental justice investigation into the Alabama Division of Public Health (ADPH) relating to the discriminatory administration of a wastewater disposal system program.  The investigation in Lowndes County, Alabama, a predominately Black county with a excessive poverty charge, revealed that ADPH had didn’t take significant actions to treatment sanitation circumstances. This was regardless of consciousness of resident’s publicity to uncooked sewage, a burden that positioned disproportionate Health and monetary impacts on the County’s Black residents, who might face potential property loss and even felony penalties in the event that they weren’t in a position to remediate.

The Settlement was reached after an 18-month investigation. Beneath the decision settlement, ADPH will probably be required to develop equitable and protected wastewater disposal and administration providers, in addition to elevate consciousness of the Health impacts of publicity to wastewater.  

The Settlement requires ADPH to handle Health disparities and enhance Health outcomes by making certain compliance with federal civil rights legal guidelines and the fulfilment of settlement phrases.

“Environmental justice is a public Health subject, and the place you reside shouldn’t decide whether or not you get sick from primary environmental hazards not confronted in different prosperous and white communities,” mentioned Division of Health and Human Providers Workplace for Civil Rights Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “We’re happy that Alabama’s Public Health Division has dedicated to take speedy and long-term steps to guard the Health of Lowndes County residents. This group has lengthy been on the coronary heart of the civil rights wrestle, and right this moment’s decision is one more testomony to the continuing work that’s the pursuit of racial justice.” 

Eradicating Language Obstacles

As part of this Administration’s accessibility and inclusion efforts, together with by means of tasks outlined in President Biden’s Government Orders and the HHS Fairness Motion Plan, OCR is working to make sure that all folks have significant entry to Health and human providers applications and actions no matter race, ethnicity or linguistic skill.  This subject is of serious significance to OCR, as racial minorities usually tend to converse a language aside from English at house, and communication boundaries typically end in destructive Health outcomes together with elevated morbidity and mortality. OCR is main HHS on Language Entry by launching and organizing the Division-wide Language Entry Steering Committee, which is presently overseeing the implementation of Language Entry Plan updates for HHS Workers Divisions and Working Divisions.

  • As a part of this effort, the Language Entry Steering Committee is overseeing the implementation of up to date Language Entry Plans for all of HHS’ part Workers Divisions and Working Divisions.  The updates made to part Language Entry Plans will enhance and make sure the high quality and accuracy of language entry providers in HHS-funded Health and human providers applications and actions for folks with restricted English proficiency and other people with disabilities.
  • OCR additionally releases an annual progress report based mostly on language entry work being executed throughout HHS. The annual report tracks enforcement exercise and the progress of the Language Entry Steering Committee.

Guaranteeing Equal Entry to Telehealth

OCR and the Division of Justice Civil Rights Division issued steerage on nondiscrimination on the premise of race, shade, nationwide origin, and incapacity in accessing telehealth.

  • The steerage explains authorized obligations underneath Title VI, Part 1557 of the Reasonably priced Care Act, Part 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
  • IT supplies Information to Health Care suppliers about their nondiscrimination obligations and sensible recommendations on find out how to present accessible telehealth.

Strengthening the Health Care Workforce to Meet America’s Numerous Wants

Every summer season, OCR continues a long-standing collaboration with the Affiliation of American Medical Faculties to ship civil rights compliance coaching to pre-medical and pre-dental faculty college students.

  • From June to August, OCR employees members ship coaching to roughly 1,000 college students at schools and universities throughout the nation, together with traditionally Black establishments, Howard College, and Charles R. Drew College of Medication and Science.

For those who or somebody you realize has skilled discrimination, you possibly can file a grievance with HHS at:


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