$4.6 Million Grant for Consumer Assistance

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

The Department of Managed Health Care recently received a $4.6 million federal grant to fund its consumer assistance program to help answer questions from California consumers about health coverage.

"This will enable us to reach and assist more Californians who are struggling with health coverage questions," said Marta Green, deputy director for communications and planning at DMHC.

"The focus of the grant is on consumer assistance for Californians," Green said, "and in particular to help seniors and people with disabilities, who have more specific needs."

The California Department of Insurance and the Office of the Patient Advocate stand to benefit from the grant money, as well, according to Green. "It is a single-applicant grant, but DMHC will distribute some funding, such as to OPA for data collection, and to CDI for enhancement for the health center."

DMHC is working with nonprofit, community-based service organizations to work in a proactive way to reach anyone with concerns about coverage, rather than waiting for questions to appear. "The community services groups are sort of our boots on the ground," Green said. That includes data collection across different programs, she said, "which allows us to spot problems and any trends emerging. And that's a very good thing."

This is the second federal grant DMHC has received for its consumer assistance program. The first one came in 2010.

It's vital for consumers to have one central place to go with questions, Green said. "We're sort of a one-stop shop for all Californians," she said.


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