HHS said it will award nearly $30 million in consumer assistance grants to help states and territories either establish or strengthen programs that provide direct services to patients related to their health insurance.
HHS marks $30 million for consumer assistance
The federal funding is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and 35 states, four territories and Washington, D.C., are the grant recipients, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a news conference. She was joined in person and by telephone by grant recipients, including state insurance commissioners and not-for-profit organizations, and also one healthcare consumer who described her personal experiences and frustrations with the nation's healthcare system.
The grants are to be used in programs that will help consumers enroll in health coverage; file complaints and appeals against health plans; educate them about their rights and empower them to take action; and track complaints to help identify problems and strengthen enforcement. Sebelius said that many times—particularly in the current economy—states are understaffed and underfunded. “So the grants give resources states need to respond,” she said. “We can put our resources to where they're needed.”
In a question-and-answer period, Sebelius answered a question about recent court cases involving the Affordable Care Act. “The one and only decision was in Michigan,” Sebelius said, “where the judge said the law is constitutional.”
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