Steps to Register as a Certified Application Counselor Organization

Michigan Health Centers will help nearly 100,000 uninsured Michigan residents learn about and enroll in health insurance programs.

Michigan Health Centers will help nearly 100,000 uninsured Michigan residents learn about and enroll in health insurance programs.

By Natasha Robinson, Program Specialist

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) hosted a webinar on Wednesday, July 31, to outline instructions for Health Centers and other community-based organizations. The overarching message was that the organizations wishing to be listed as Certified Application Counselor (CAC) Organizations need to register using an online application. This will allow the organizations to receive information about training, certification, and access resources.

The CAC application requires the following information:

-          Organization’s name and contact information

-          The nature of the organization’s business

-          Whether the organization has already been designated by a state agency as a Medicaid or MIChild assistance program (This would be “yes” if you’re a MI Bridges navigation partner and/or completed training for healthcare4mi.com and have an agency ID)

-          Whether the organization is a governmental entity or organized under 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code

-          Whether the organization screens the employees and volunteers it will certify as application counselors

-          Whether the organization or the employees and volunteers it intends to certify already handle personally identifiable information (this would be a “yes”)

-          The organization’s experience assisting individuals applying for health coverage (this is what you already do day in and day out!)

After gathering the above information, go to http://marketplace.cms.gov/help-us/cac-apply.html to complete the electronic application.

Under Organization Name, use your Health Center’s proper name (not a specific site’s name)

Under Organization Type, identify your organization as a CHC, HRSA Health Center, or recipient of a HRSA grant for enrollment assistance

Under “How can the Marketplace contact your organization?” list your primary/main site that functions as the hub for your O&E efforts and its contact information – There is an option to “add another location” under the boxes that say “location address.” This information will be available for consumers needing assistance both online at healthcare.gov and through the call center.

The CAC organization will have to enter into a written agreement with the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM), and individual CACs will have to sign an agreement promising to keep person consumer information private and secure.

During the webinar, the speakers said you should receive information regarding approval and next steps within about five business days. Health Centers can anticipate being trained through online modules beginning in mid-to-late August, but they haven’t offered a specific date or timeframe for completion.

The initial open enrollment period for purchasing coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace runs from October 1, 2013 to March 2014. Of special note is that any person utilizing the High Risk Insurance Pool (HIP) for coverage now will lose that coverage on December 31, 2013. These people must apply for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace by December 7, 2013 in order to avoid a gap in coverage.

The actual CAC function begins in full on October 1, 2013 with the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace. However, CMS is recommending those workers do preparatory work ahead of open enrollment. CACs will help consumers enroll in affordable health insurance coverage, including Medicaid and MIChild.

Our recommendation is that new outreach and enrollment staff should be hired as quickly as possible. There are many goals that can be met prior to the release of the federal Certified Application Counselor training. For example, the new hire will need to be oriented to the Health Center’s operations, create or learn the Health Center’s outreach and enrollment plan, review terms and history of the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace, become familiarized with Michigan’s Medicaid and bundled benefits enrollment process (MI Bridges training, HealthCare4MI.com training), become familiarized with other enrollment services provided by your Health Center (e.g. prescription access, sliding fee scale, and so on), learn how data can and will be reported and to whom, begin to build relationships with partners, and more. Feel free to revisit MPCA’s Outreach and Enrollment Playbook (slides) and Toolkit for resources and ideas. We’re happy to post your job description at no cost on our Career Center if you believe that will be helpful.

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