The following day, HHS announced $30 million in grants in conjunction with another portion of Public Law 111-148 – the effort to strengthen consumer assistance programs. Such grants will be used to help consumers enroll in health insurance programs, to educate consumers about their rights and to assist consumers in filing complaints and appeals.
In announcing the grants via webcast on October 19, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “In order for consumers to get the full benefits from the reforms we need to make sure they know their rights, and that the new protections [of the law] are also understood.”
The grants were awarded to 40 states, territories and the District of Columbia, and will go to state insurance departments and other agencies tasked with enforcing the new healthcare reform law. Many grant recipients will partner with non-profit organizations in order to strengthen their consumer assistance programs, and HHS will offer corresponding training, will maintain a database of the problems consumers face and will share best practices with states.