AG Gansler's Health Education & Advocacy Unit Receives Significant Grant
$717K award will help consumers take control of their health care
Baltimore, MD ( Sept. 12, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Health Education and Advocacy Unit (HEAU) received nearly $717,000 in grant funds from the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight that will be used to help Marylanders with their health care decisions. Since October 2010, the HEAU has been awarded nearly $1.5 million in Consumer Assistance Program grants under the federal Affordable Care Act.
"These funds will be put to good use by helping consumers explore health insurance options, resolve disputes with their carriers and contest claim denials or appeals," said Attorney General Gansler. "The HEAU is an invaluable resource that has helped tens of thousands of Marylanders since its inception and has been a model for consumer assistance programs in other states."
The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) grants are designed to strengthen existing services or establish new programs that empower consumers to have a greater say in their health care decisions, thereby stemming some of the worst health insurance horror stories.
The HEAU was established in 1986 as a resource to assist consumers with health care billing disputes. Its mission has since expanded to include enrolling Marylanders in health insurance plans, as well as working with patients whose existing health plan has refused to cover a medical procedure or service. Through mediation, the Unit also helps consumers negotiate refunds for defective medical equipment.
In fiscal year 2012, the HEAU received nearly 2,300 complaints and recovered more than $1.7 million for consumers. Since its formation in 1986, the Unit has recovered or saved consumers more than $18.9 million.
"Some of life's most important decisions are related to health care and Marylanders should know to whom they can turn when difficult situations arise," said Kimberly Cammarata, director of the HEAU. "This grant will help further our mission of educating and assisting consumers and putting them in charge of their health care future."
The HEAU has received $1,486,974 in CAP grants since October 2010. Previous grant funds have been used to hire additional staff to manage cases, work with consumers on claim appeals and denials and health insurance enrollment, conduct outreach and develop educational materials for consumers and health care providers.
For more information about the Consumer Assistance Program grants and to see how other states are using the resources, go to http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/10/cap-grants.html
Maryland consumers who need information about available health insurance options, require assistance with a health insurance claim denial or appeal, have a billing dispute with a health care provider or want to file a complaint should call 410-528-1840 or 877-261-8807, or go to http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/HEAU.htm.