The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has a new Director, Melanie Fontes Rainer, who was sworn in by the Department of Health and Human Services Director Xavier Becerra. Fontes Rainer is going to head the department’s enforcement of HIPAA compliance and federal civil rights. He will lead the department’s policy and tactical projects.
Fontes Rainer formerly worked as Acting Director, in place of Lisa J. Pino who quit the position in July 2022 after 11 months. Before becoming a part of OCR, Fontes Rainer worked as Secretary Becerra’s Counselor and offered strategy guidance on concerns related to patient privacy, civil rights, reproductive health, competition in healthcare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), equity, and the private insurance industry. In that position, she headed the enforcement of the No Surprises Act, which made medical billing transparent helping consumers to save money. Fontes Rainer led the White House Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, and recently gave the Secretary and the Administration advice on dealing with the Supreme Court judgment on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Fontes Rainer was likewise designated by the Secretary on the White House Competition Council, spearheading cross-cutting Department work and a whole-of-Government strategy on competition, price transparency, and costs to help U.S. consumers.
Before Fontes Rainer became a member of the Biden-Harris Administration, she had the following roles:
- She worked as Special Assistant to the California Department of Justice Attorney General and Chief Health Care Advisor. As Special Assistant
- She headed a national team to conserve the Affordable Care Act and secure healthcare insurance for over 133 million people in America.
- She helped create the Health Care Rights and Access, which is a new office dedicated to proactively developing laws related to health care civil rights, competition, consumer protection, and privacy.
- She worked in the U.S. Senate as a Senior Aide and Women’s Policy Director to Chair Patty Murray on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Budget Committees
- She assisted in passing a number of transformative health care legislation, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act, the 21st Century Cures Act, and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act
- She headed the Senate in the work involving the Affordable Care Act, gender equity, and reproductive rights.
Melanie has dedicated her whole professional career to serving the public and worked tirelessly to ensure that medical care is accessible to everyone and reasonably priced, regardless of who you are or where you live. As a longtime senior aide, Melanie will protect and impose the medical care and civil rights of every citizen across the country. Melanie’s dedication and expertise are essential to carrying out the priorities in health and human services of the Biden-Harris Administration.