HHS awards $30 million in consumer assistance grants

The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday awarded almost $30 million to three dozen states and territories so they can help people see the benefits of Democrats' healthcare reform bill. 

The consumer assistance grants are part of the healthcare overhaul. They're meant to support state efforts to establish or strengthen consumer assistance programs that help consumers with questions or concerns regarding their health insurance.

"The Affordable Care Act’s Patient’s Bill of Rights gives people important benefits and ends the worst insurance company abuses," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "These grants will help ensure consumers’ rights are protected, and they are another way the new law is putting patients, not insurance companies, in charge of their health care."

Specifically, the grants aim to:

• Help consumers enroll in health coverage;

• Help consumers file complaints and appeals against healthcare plans;

• Educate consumers about their rights and empower them to take action; and

• Track consumer complaints to help identify problems and strengthen enforcement.