October 19, 2010

RI Receives $150,000 Grant to Set Up Health Care Helpline

PROVIDENCE, RI – U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today announced that Rhode Island will receive a $149,880 federal grant to improve consumers’ ability to get clear and accurate information and help them understand their health care benefits and options. The grant stems from provisions in the new health insurance reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

In addition to developing new web-based resources and educational material, two new positions will be created at the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation to help consumers understand their health insurance options, how they can enroll, and explain their right to appeal decisions if an insurer denies them coverage. These new workers will also help investigate complaints, resolve health insurance-related problems for bilingual speakers (Spanish/English), and conduct training sessions to raise awareness of the expanded consumer assistance services provided by the new law.

“This initiative will help Rhode Islanders get the information they need to make well-informed decisions about their health insurance. It will help consumers understand their options and provide assistance if they run into trouble. This is another example of how health insurance reform is working to put patients back in charge of their health care, rather than insurance companies who for too long made decisions that denied or decreased care,” said Senator Reed, who authored a bill in 2006, called the Health Care Consumers Assistance Fund Act, that would have created a similar health care consumer assistance program.

“Health insurance reform will benefit hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders in the years to come, but it remains a complex piece of legislation,” said Senator Whitehouse. “By helping our state implement reform and answer questions about the law, and helping dispel the falsehoods that have been propagated, this funding will help Rhode Islanders get the most out of this landmark bill.”

In addition to providing new consumer education and outreach programs on health insurance reform and coverage, this grant will also help increase coordination between the various state, federal, and non-governmental agencies, and programs and track health consumer complaints to help identify problems and strengthen enforcement.

The grant is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

For more information about the Consumer Assistance Grant program and the Affordable Care Act, go to: www.HealthCare.gov.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921