CSBG DCL ACA Open Enrollment Conference Call

Publication Date: November 10, 2014

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Community Services
Division of State Assistance
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447


Community Services Block Grant
Dear Colleague Letter

Re: ACA Open Enrollment Conference Call

Date: November 10, 2014

Dear CSBG and LIHEAP Colleagues:

Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) programs can play a vital role in furthering Affordable Care Act (ACA) outreach and enrollment, as ACF reaches many of the populations most in need of coverage.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period takes place November 15, 2014 — February 15, 2015.  We appreciate all that you accomplished in year one to reach out to CSBG/LIHEAP constituents; however, more work remains.

As we approach year two, we know that millions of Americans remain uninsured.  A recent Kaiser poll found that 89% of the uninsured did not know of the upcoming open enrollment period.  Many of these uninsured are served by CSBG/LIHEAP and it is critical that we work strategically to reach these constituencies and provide them with the tools they need to obtain affordable health care coverage.

The Office of Community Services is facilitating a conference call on Wednesday, November 12 from 3:00-4:00 ET. We ask that you join by calling in to the following conference line: 1-888-390-0976; enter passcode 7591956.

Panelists will include:

·         Jeannie Chaffin, Director, Office of Community Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

·         Marrianne McMullen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs, ACF, HHS

·         Stefanie Costello, Health Insurance Specialist, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS

·         Amber Hansen, Executive Director, Community Action of Nebraska (CAN)

Here are a few suggestions for how you can contribute to the ACA outreach effort:

1.      State grantees can help local agencies be informed about health insurance opportunities.

Work with state Medicaid agencies and the Health Insurance Marketplace to get current, reliable information for sub-recipients to distribute to families on health coverage eligibility and application.  Share a directory of ACA Navigators or other in-person assisters.  As reference, Navigators are those organizations that have received state or federal funding to assist with outreach and enrollment. In addition to Navigators, Health Insurance Marketplaces make other resources available to help individuals access Marketplace coverage, including certified application counselors, non-navigator assistance personnel (also known as in-person assisters), and agents and brokers.  Please see a description of each of these roles at the end of this letter.  Individuals in federally-facilitated and state partnership Marketplaces can visit Find Local Help Visit disclaimer page to locate assistance in their area.

2.      Offer information about health insurance opportunities in local agencies.

Incorporate ACA resources into intake processes — be it online, as a mailing, in person or over the phone.  Ensure every intake worker has the contact information for the local Navigator or in-person assister.  Display materials from HealthCare.gov Visit disclaimer page explaining the basics of coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

3.      Partner with community organizations to provide outreach to families. 

Agencies can add a question to intake applications asking about health coverage status, which will allow local organizations to refer individuals as needed.  Agencies can disseminate information about the ACA through email blasts, newsletters, and social media.  Agencies can connect families to community health centers, the Health Insurance Marketplace and in-person assisters, or even arrange for in-person assisters to visit local program offices.

We are asking all State LIHEAP and CSBG administrators to please share this message—and the information and resources on the attached document—with your local agency networks.  Thank you for your ongoing commitment to help improve the health and financial security outcomes of our customers.

Jeannie L. Chaffin
Office of Community Services

Resources for Affordable Care Act (ACA) Assistance


In-Person Assistance in the Health Insurance Marketplaces


Navigators play a vital role in helping consumers prepare electronic and paper applications to establish eligibility and enroll in coverage through the Marketplaces and potentially qualify for an insurance affordability programs. They also provide outreach and education to raise awareness about the Marketplace, and refer consumers to health insurance ombudsman and consumer assistance programs when necessary. Navigators are funded through federal grant funds and must complete comprehensive federal Navigator training, criminal background checks, and state training and registration (when applicable), prior to assisting consumers.  For a list of HHS Navigator awardees or more information about other Marketplace resources, please visit: http://cciio.cms.gov/programs/exchanges/assistance.html Visit disclaimer page .

Certified Application Counselors

The Federally-facilitated Marketplace designates organizations to certify application counselors who perform many of the same functions as Navigators and non-Navigator assistance personnel—including educating consumers and helping them complete an application for coverage. An online application for organizations who want to become Marketplace-designated organizations that can certify application counselors can be found at the following link:  http://www.cms.gov/cciio/programs-and-initiatives/health-insurance-marketplaces/assistance.html Visit disclaimer page .  These groups might include community health centers or other health care providers, hospitals, or social service agencies.

Agents and Brokers

Agents and brokers also play a key role in the Health Insurance Marketplace. To the extent permitted by states, agents and brokers play an important role in educating consumers about Marketplaces and insurance affordability programs, and helping consumers receive eligibility determinations, apply for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, compare plans, and enroll in coverage. In particular, agents and brokers play a critical role in helping qualified employers and employees enroll in coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Consumers may want to obtain professional advice from agents and brokers when applying for and selecting a qualified health plan. Below is a link to the CMS webpage for agents and brokers choosing to participate in Federally-facilitated Marketplaces or State Partnership Marketplaces:  http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Health-Insurance-Marketplaces/a-b-resources.html Visit disclaimer page .

Additional Resources for Service Providers

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Marketplace Materials: http://marketplace.cms.gov/outreach-and-education/outreach-and-education.html Visit disclaimer page

CMS materials for Navigators and Assisters: http://marketplace.cms.gov/technical-assistance-resources/training-materials/training.html Visit disclaimer page           

Become a 'Champion for Coverage':  https://marketplace.cms.gov/technical-assistance-resources/assister-programs/champion.html Visit disclaimer page

Healthcare.gov ACA materials: https://www.healthcare.gov/get-answers/ Visit disclaimer page             

Important Dates and Deadlines https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/dates-and-deadlines/ Visit disclaimer page

Last Reviewed Date: