Health Reform Law News: HHS Awards $30 Million in Consumer Assistance Grants
The Department of Health and Human Services says it will award $30 million in consumer assistance grants to help "states and territories either establish or strengthen programs that provide direct services to patients related to their health insurance," Modern Healthcare reports, adding that "35 states, four territories and Washington, D.C., are the grant recipients, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a news conference." The grants are called for in the new health law (Zigmond, 10/19).
The Hill's Healthwatch blog: "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" (Pecquet, 10/19).
(Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel: In Wisconsin, the "thorny issue" of setting up online health insurance exchanges awaits the next governor. "Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate, supports federal health care reform and would have the state design its own exchange, rather than let the federal government do it. His administration would work with consumers, the insurance industry and regulators to develop an exchange that would preserve the broad choice of health plans now available in the state, his campaign said. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, the Republican candidate, opposes federal health care reform and has said he will instruct the attorney general to join other states in challenging the law." States must have a plan in place for the exchanges in January 2013, they will begin operating in 2014 (Boulton, 10/19).
Minnesota Public Radio spoke to three hospital administrators who "say health care reform's looming changes are causing some sleepless nights. Imagine trying to run a business where lives are at stake, costs are rising, and revenues aren't keeping up - all in the middle of a severe recession. Then, Congress changes the rules you've worked by for decades but hasn't spelled out what those new regulations will look like." For small hospitals, the uncertainty is stifling, but is "less troubling for large health organizations like Essentia Health Systems based in Duluth. ... All three hospital administrators agree on at least one issue, the current system, with its soaring costs, was unsustainable" (Stawicki, 10/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.