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The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight

 

New Funding Opportunity for Consumer Assistance Programs

In 2010, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, HHS distributed nearly $30 million in Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) grants to help States and Territories establish or enhance activities to educate consumers about their health coverage options and to ensure consumer access to their rights under state and federal law, including the Affordable Care Act.  CMS has collected data that demonstrates the importance of Consumer Assistance Programs and the support system they have created for Americans in 38 States and territories across the country.  For example, as of October 14, 2011, Consumer Assistance Programs provided direct assistance to 210,000 consumers and assisted 25,000 consumers in filing appeals.

Thanks to the work of Consumer Assistance Program grants, consumers in 38 States and territories have consumer advocates to serve and empower them in the private marketplace for the first time, and vulnerable and underserved populations in 26 states now have access to assistance not previously available. Additionally, in some states, Consumer Assistance Programs have reached communities in rural and frontier areas that previously have not been served by health insurance consumer assistance advocates.

Approximately $2.5 million in grant funds were not spent during the first grant cycle, and these funds are now available through a new limited-competition funding opportunity announcement. The funds will be made available to the 38 grantees that successfully completed the first Consumer Assistance Program grant cycle to strengthen their ability to help consumers with questions or concerns regarding their health insurance.

Using these funds, States and Territories will continue to help expand consumer assistance efforts, including:

■ Helping consumers enroll in health coverage, including group health plans and health insurance coverage;
■ Helping consumers file complaints and appeals against health plans;
■ Educating consumers about their rights and empowering them to take action; and
■ Tracking consumer complaints to help identify problems and strengthen enforcement.

Eligible applicants include the following 38 States and Territories that successfully completed the first CAP grant cycle: District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.  Programs may also continue to partner with non-profit organizations that have a track record of working with consumers. Applications are available now by visiting http://www.grants.gov/ and searching for CFDA number 93.519.

June 22, 2012

Today, CCIIO made fifteen awards of up to approximately $127,000 each under this limited funding opportunity to the following states: Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.  Each of these states  successfully completed the first Consumer Assistance Program grant cycle and will be able to use the additional funds to expand their consumer assistance activities across their states.

 
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