U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), promotes and ensures that people have equal access to, and opportunity to participate in, and receive services from all HHS programs without facing unlawful discrimination. OCR also ensures that the privacy and security of individuals’ health information is protected while ensuring access to care. Through prevention and elimination of unlawful discrimination, and by protecting the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information, OCR helps HHS carry out its overall mission of improving the health and well-being of all people affected by its many programs.

In particular, OCR enforces the privacy and security of individuals’ health information pursuant to HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules. OCR also enforces Federal civil rights laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These laws prohibit discrimination in the delivery of health and human services based on such factors as race, color, national origin, and disability. OCR’s work presents complex and challenging social, economic, scientific, ethical, and legal issues – issues that affect the lives of all Americans.

OCR Region V covers the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. OCR Region V receives and investigates numerous complaints annually from residents of these states alleging violations of health information privacy/security rights and civil rights. OCR Region V also provides technical assistance to health care and human service providers, and conducts outreach to state agencies, advocacy groups, and other interested organizations and individuals.

Law student interns with OCR have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of OCR’s work, including investigating discrimination and health information privacy/security claims, researching federal programs and policies, attending national meetings regarding OCR’s various program areas, and drafting substantive letters of finding. Attorneys on the OCR staff will mentor interns and closely evaluate all written work. OCR interns have the opportunity to do rewarding and fascinating public service in a collegial and cooperative atmosphere, where individuals are encouraged to share and benefit from the vast experiences and expertise of their colleagues.

Please note that while Interns at HHS use PILI’s online application system and are eligible to attend all PILI programming throughout the summer, HHS Interns are not eligible to receive PILI funding.