June 07, 2012
Leading Consumer Group Hails New Consumer Assistance Grants as Key to Helping People Understand & Access New Health Care Options
Statement of Robert Restuccia, Executive Director of Community Catalyst, on new funding for state consumer assistance programs to help consumers realize benefits of the Affordable Care Act
BOSTON, MA - "Community Catalyst welcomes Secretary Sebelius's announcement today that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide nearly $30 million to offer states the opportunity to apply for Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) grants as part of the Affordable Care Act. These grants will allow states to provide one-on-one support to people so they can understand their health care options, get coverage, and troubleshoot any problems under the new law.
"As a national organization that works in more than 40 states with consumer advocates dedicated to expanding access to affordable health care, we understand the challenges people face when trying to navigate the complex health care marketplace. That's why we have strongly advocated for a federal investment in this kind of health service for individuals and their families. The data released today by HHS on the positive impact of prior CAP grants and recent news stories about organizations that are already being inundated with questions by consumers about choosing health insurance or accessing their health benefits underscore the critical need for this assistance.
"According to the HHS data from the first year of the program alone (October 2010- October 2011), CAP grantees have provided assistance to more than 200,000 individual consumers; helped more than 20,000 consumers successfully challenge their issuer's decisions, find coverage, and resolve their private health insurance problems; and generated more than $18 million in savings on behalf of consumers in addition to the unquantifiable benefits from finding more affordable health care and getting the benefits that consumers need.
"In the last round of CAP funding in 2010, a number of states partnered with non-profit community organizations to provide the consumer assistance. As the report shows, these partnerships in states such as Massachusetts, New York, and Maine were very successful in meeting consumer needs. For example, the CAP in Maine aided a woman who had nearly $34,000 in unpaid hospital bills for a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery that her insurance company refused to pay. The CAP filed appeals that ultimately resulted in the insurer reversing the decision and paying 70 percent of the woman's medical bills. Non-profit consumer health organizations are trusted resources in their communities and often serve as the ‘go-to' source for individuals and families who might not otherwise seek assistance with health care questions.
"Community Catalyst looks forward to our continued work with state-based consumer health organizations to assist them in these efforts."
About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all. Since 1997, Community Catalyst has been working to build the consumer and community leadership required to transform the American health system. With the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice, Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to change the health care system so it serves everyone - especially vulnerable members of society. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org.