The Health Care Financing Administration's vision in the current Strategic Plan guarantees that all our beneficiaries have equal access to the best health care. Pivotal to guaranteeing equal access is the integration of compliance with civil rights laws into the fabric of all HCFA program operations and activities. I want to emphasize my personal commitment to and responsibility for ensuring compliance with civil rights laws by recipients of HCFA funds. These laws include:
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, as amended; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended; and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as well as other related laws. The responsibility for ensuring compliance with these laws is shared by all HCFA operating components. Promoting attention to and ensuring HCFA program compliance with civil rights laws are among my highest priorities for HCFA, its employees, contractors, State agencies, health care providers, and all other partners directly involved in the administration of HCFA programs.
HCFA, as the agency legislatively charged with administering the Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs, is thereby charged with ensuring these programs do not engage in discriminatory actions on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. HCFA will, with your help continue to ensure that persons are not excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of its programs because of prohibited discrimination.
To achieve its civil rights goals, HCFA will continue to incorporate civil rights concerns into the culture of our agency and its programs, and we ask that all our partners do the same. We will include civil rights concerns in the regular program review and audit activities including: collecting data on access to, and the participation of, minority and disabled persons in our programs; furnishing information to recipients and contractors about civil rights compliance; reviewing HCFA publications, program regulations, and instructions to assure support for civil rights; and working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Civil Rights, to initiate orientation and training programs on civil rights. HCFA will also allocate financial resources to the extent feasible to: ensure equal access; prevent discrimination; and assist in the remedy of past acts adversely affecting persons on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.
DHHS will seek voluntary compliance to resolve issues of discrimination whenever possible. If necessary, HCFA will refer matters to the Office for Civil Rights for appropriate handling. In order to enforce civil rights laws, the Office for Civil Rights may: 1) refer matters for an administrative hearing which could lead to suspending, terminating, or refusing to grant or continue Federal financial assistance; or 2) refer the matter to the Department of Justice for legal action.
HCFA's mission is to assure health care security for the diverse population that constitutes our nation's Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries; i.e., our customers. We will enhance our communication with constituents, partners, and stakeholders. We will seek input from health care providers, states, contractors, the DHHS Office for Civil Rights, professional organizations, community advocates, and program beneficiaries. We will continue to vigorously assure that all Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries have equal access to and receive the best health care possible regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.


Nancy-Ann Min DeParle