CSWA is pleased to see that the Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance on compliance with civil rights laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health disparities between Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) citizens and white citizens has been a major concern of CSWA. We hope this guidance will improve the underlying problems that are barriers to mental health care for BIPOC citizens. The lack of attention to LGBTQ citizens in this guidance is a glaring omission which we hope will be corrected in future guidance.
To read the whole OCR Bulletin, please visit: Title VI Bulletin - PDF
OCR Issues Guidance on Civil Rights Protections Prohibiting Race, Color, and National Origin Discrimination During COVID-19
Yesterday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance to ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance understand that they must comply with applicable federal civil rights laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in HHS-funded programs during COVID-19. This Bulletin focuses on recipients' compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).
To help ensure Title VI compliance during the COVID-19 public health emergency, recipients of federal financial assistance, including state and local agencies, hospitals, and other health care providers, should:
OCR is responsible for enforcing Title VI's prohibitions against race, color, and national origin discrimination. As part of the federal response to this public health emergency, OCR will continue to work in close coordination with our HHS partners and recipients to remove discriminatory barriers which impede equal access to quality health care, recognizing the high priority of COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Roger Severino, OCR Director, stated, "HHS is committed to helping populations hardest hit by COVID-19, including African-American, Native American, and Hispanic communities." Severino concluded, "This guidance reminds providers that unlawful racial discrimination in healthcare will not be tolerated, especially during a pandemic."
"Minorities have long experienced disparities related to the medical and social determinants of health – all of the things that contribute to your health and wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified those disparities, but it has also given us the opportunity to acknowledge their existence and impact, and deepen our resolve to address them," said Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, Surgeon General, MD, MPH. "This timely guidance reinforces that goal and I look forward to working across HHS and with our states and communities to ensure it is implemented."
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