N108: Transition to the Registered Professional Nurse Role Study Guide Federal Agencies Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The EEOC is authorized to investigate charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law. The EEOC’s role in an investigation is to fairly and accurately assess the allegations in the charge and then make a finding. If the EEOC finds that discrimination has occurred, they will try to settle the charge. If they aren't successful, they have the authority to file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), previously known as the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), is a federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that administers the Medicare program and works in partnership with state governments to administer Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and health insurance portability standards. In addition to these programs, CMS has other responsibilities, including the administrative simplification standards from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), quality standards in long-term care facilities (more commonly referred to as nursing homes) through its survey and certification process, and clinical laboratory quality standards. 2.17 The Development of Healthcare Legislation and Policy Role of the Individual Nurse Each nurse has many opportunities to affect the political process. This can be done simply by keeping informed, voting, or trying to shape public opinion. The nurse as a citizen can communicate with legislators and officials by writing to local and state representatives, joining a nursing organization or consumer action group, sharing information and opinions, and analyzing studies, research, and articles. The nurse acts as an activist in the political process by testifying at hearings to offer specialized knowledge on issues, lobbying, negotiating, and networking. The nurse may choose to act as a politician by seeking elected office or being appointed to an office. Whether in a nursing organization, or the U.S. Congress, nurses have the power to affect outcomes. Leaders in nursing organizations help to shape the direction and efforts of those organizations. Nurses in many states have been effective in shaping health policy by being elected to office as members of their state legislature.