Congress Should Appropriate Funds for Consumer Assistance Programs in Every State
by Cheryl Fish-Parcham, Families USA; Elisabeth Ryden Benjamin, Community Service Society of New York/Community Health Advocates
Among consumers across the country, there is a tremendous need for assistance with health insurance and health care billing issues. Congress recognized this need when it permanently authorized grants to offices of health insurance consumer assistance and health care ombudsman programs in 2010 and appropriated first-year funding for them. These programs are collectively known as “consumer assistance programs” or “CAPS.” However, Congress has not appropriated funds for these programs since 2010, leaving many states without this important resource. In 2022, as the No Surprises Act goes into effect and the nation faces a health care landscape altered by the pandemic, Congress should appropriate $400 million for health consumer assistance programs, to remain available without fiscal year limitation, and establish a permanent appropriation for them.