October 19, 2010                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Commissioner Lindeen recognized by U.S. Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services


      Montana receives grant to do consumer outreach.
      
      Today Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen was asked to join Secretary Sebelius in a national press conference as she announced the latest grants to states to implement healthcare reform. Lindeen was recognized for her outstanding efforts to protect consumers in Montana, as well as her commitment to successfully implement healthcare reform.
      
      The dedicated staff in my office goes home everyday wishing they could do more to help consumers," Lindeen said, "with these new funds they can. Montana is a large state and we plan to go on the road to meet directly with folks about their insurance problems and educate them on becoming better consumers of health care and health insurance."
      
      Lindeen's office will receive $150,000 as part of a national grant to states to help consumers file complaints and appeals on rejected insurance claims. The CSI will use the grant money to streamline the complaint process and do consumer outreach.
      
      Annually, the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance answers thousands of consumers calls and files hundreds of complaints against companies offering insurance products. In 2009, the CSI was able to recover over $3 million to Montana consumers.
      
      "When AARP held health insurance reform listening sessions in Montana, a constant theme we heard from families was the feeling of powerlessness against insurance company claims denials," said Bob Bartholomew, AARP Montana State Director. "The Affordable Care Act provides consumers with significant new protections including the ability to choose a health plan that best suits their needs and to appeal decisions by plans to deny coverage of needed services. The new Consumer Assistance Grants will help educate Montanans about their health coverage options and will also give families the power to help ensure that their legitimate insurance claims are covered."
      
      "Consumers understanding and participating in their health care coverage is essential to their health. Congratulations goes to Commissioner Lindeen for valuing the patient's role and for working to ensure consumers have the tools necessary to make informed decisions about preventing, detecting, and treating chronic diseases like cancer," said Kristin Page Nei of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
      
      "We fought hard to pass the Patients' Bill of Rights to ensure consumers have real choices when it comes to their health insurance coverage and the peace of mind of knowing that coverage will be there for them when they need it. The Montana Insurance Commissioner's Office, under the leadership of Monica Lindeen, has done great work putting these consumer protections to work for Montanans," Baucus said. "The Patients' Bill of Rights makes it illegal for insurance companies to drop coverage for people when they get sick or deny coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions. The law also makes sure young adults can stay on their parents' health insurance plans longer and guarantees free coverage for preventive care like mammograms and vaccinations. And the law ensures consumers' right to a meaningful appeals process that will hold insurance companies accountable.These grants will provide important support for the Montana Insurance Commissioner to keep up the good work and put doctors and patients (not insurance companies) back in control of their health care.
      
      For more information about the grant or how to speak with someone about an insurance problem call 1-8003-326-148