The Affordable Care Act provides for nearly $30 million in grant funding for states to establish and strengthen Consumer Assistance Programs.   States must apply for the grants and articulate how they will use the funding to assist their residents with problems and related questions regarding health insurance coverage.  Consumer Assistance Programs provide assistance to state residents in numerous ways including educating residents about their health care rights and responsibilities and assisting in the preparation and filing of complaints and appeals.  The Programs also allow residents to make more knowledgeable decisions when selecting an insurance provider.  Consumer Assistance Programs benefit the government by collecting data and file reports to the Department of Health and Human Services to identify areas of concern that need additional oversight.  In a report released by HHS, Consumer Assistance Programs from October 2010 to October 2011 have: (1) assisted more than 200,000 consumers through outreach and education; and (2) recovered more than $18 million in direct health care savings for consumers.  Through the funding provided by the Affordable Care Act, the Consumer Assistance Programs are providing a new, innovative way for states to educate their residents about the changing health care marketplace.
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