On Thursday the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) joined a small group of key leaders— 16 national organizations—at the White House to discuss Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation with Obama Administration officials.
The agenda for the meeting included the overall ACA, the upcoming open-enrollment period, and how NASW might be able to help the Obama Administration increase the number of Americans insured through the Marketplaces. We were pleased to be a part of this important discussion. In an effort to keep you informed, I wanted to share with you a brief summary of the meeting.
Since the inception of ACA, NASW has been a partner in supporting the successful implementation of the Act.
During the last open enrollment period, we were among the thousands of federally funded Navigators, Certified Application Counselors, organizations, and volunteers who worked in partnership to enroll millions in affordable, quality health insurance plans through the Marketplaces and through expanded Medicaid programs.
Through those efforts, 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in Marketplace plans and accessing quality, affordable coverage. Also because of the ACA millions of young adults under age 26 have been able to access coverage by staying on their parent’s plan. All combined, in just one year, the number of uninsured adults has been reduced by 26 percent.
Entering the second enrollment period, Administration officials wanted to re-engage key leaders who contributed to the success of last year’s open enrollment. As a member of the team, NASW can play a critical role in helping to provide millions more with access to affordable health insurance, as well as re-enroll those who are currently signed up. During the meeting, we discussed five ways organizations can help:
- Become a Certified Application Counselor: Organizations can help by training staff to assist people applying for coverage through the Marketplace by applying to be a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) organization. As a CAC organization, staff and volunteers will help individuals understand, apply, and enroll for health coverage through the Marketplace. You can learn more at this Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) website. Administration officials were pleased to learn that NASW was a co-sponsor for a “Certified Application Counselor – Social Work Webinar” that was held today on Thursday. The webinar was jointly sponsored by CMS, NASW, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care (SSWLHC). The webinar featured social workers in the field, who shared their experiences, and offered best practices based on their enrollment work in the first open enrollment period. Additionally, step-by-step instructions were provided for becoming a trained CAC.
- Become a Champion for Coverage: Champions for Coverage are public or private organizations and businesses that are promoting the Health Insurance Marketplace in their communities. Champions engage in various educational and outreach efforts, like leveraging Marketplace materials and resources, hosting in-person or virtual educational events, participating in social media, distributing materials to their consumers, and providing space and resources for enrollment events. You can learn more about becoming at Champion at the CMS website. Throughout the open enrollment period (Nov. 15, 2014 through Feb. 15, 2015), NASW will use a number of social media outlets as we participate in the campaign to educate people about their options under the Affordable Care Act.
- Host an Enrollment Event with a Navigator – Federally funded navigators are always looking for locations to host enrollment events. We can suggest or offer locations or sites that can serve as an enrollment location. Here is a full list of Navigators in the Federally Facilitated Marketplaces. If you are planning an enrollment event, three local resources to keep in mind:
o Local United Way 211 – they can use their “211 communication network” to help advertise local events.
o Local Enroll America – they have representatives across the country and are willing to partner and be a local resource, serving as presenters at events, providing locator tools through their website, and scheduling individual appointments for individuals interested in enrolling. Enroll America is looking for venues for hosting enrollment events.
o Local Health and Human Services – they have local information and referral.
- Use Social Media, Membership Lists, and Existing Events to Amplify ACA Enrollment: Millions of Americans are still uninsured, and some of them visit our websites, are connected with us through social media, or attend our events. We have opportunities to inform them of their options by amplifying open enrollment through social media, membership lists and existing events. Here are materials you can use to do outreach and education.
- Join Your Local Coalition: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has dedicated regional directors who provide local resources and coordinate local efforts in cities and states across the country. They convene regular coalition meetings of individuals and organizations committed to educating and enrolling members of their community. By becoming a member of your local coalition, an organization can become an active part of the planning process for enrollment activities at the local level. Here is more information how how to join a local coalition or find an HHS regional director.
During this open enrollment period, most applicants will be able to use the new App 2.0; an App that streamlines and simplifies the application process. As part of the education and enrollment campaign, the Administration will promote a “Back to Health Night” at schools and a “National Youth Enrollment Day.” Details of these events will be shared as they become available.
We plan on posting a blog soon to provide information to our members and other social workers. As our involvement with open enrollment progresses, we will provide additional information and details. We are interested in tracking local efforts underway or planned so please keep us informed of your local efforts and events.
As we partner with the White House on this initiative, we want to report back the many helpful things social workers are doing to support open enrollment.
More to come. Take care,
Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW
Chief Executive Officer
National Association of Social Workers