Only states that received similar grants in 2010 can apply.

An arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be awarding $5.3 million in consumer assistance grants to up to 12 states.

The states that get the grants are supposed to use the money to support and expand existing consumer assistance programs that help consumers with health insurance problems and questions.

The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) posted the funding opportunity announcement Wednesday. Applications are due at 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 15. The only entities that can apply are those that applied and received consumer assistance program grants through a $29 million 2010 funding opportunity, CCIIO officials say. The entities that received funding in 2010 include the District of Columbia and 35 states.

See also: PPACA: HHS Offers Consumer Assistance Grants

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provided money that public exchange health insurance exchanges could use to set up navigator programs and other exchange user assistance programs. The new CCIIO grants are supposed to go to state offices that help consumers with all types of health insurance, including off-exchange individual coverage and traditional employer plan coverage.

The grant period and the budget period for the new award will last for 12 months.

CCIIO officials suggest in a fact sheet that states could use the money to run public service announcements or re-establish, extend or enhance other activities originally funded with the 2010 grants.

See also: New Hampshire Department Recommends Taking Exchange Grant