HHS also noted the various types of assisters available and said in a news release that they are known by different names—navigators, certified application counselors, application assisters—depending on where they are located and who provides the funding and information. They can be found using the department's “Find Local Help” tool.
In a webinar this month, the leaders of the AHA, CHA and FAH urged their member hospitals to become certified application counselors, or CACs, to help patients learn about potential coverage options and enroll. Dr. Mandy Cohen, senior adviser to the CMS administrator, explained that organizations are designated as the CACs in the CMS' database, and those organizations select the individuals who will undergo about five hours of training to become counselors.
So far, fewer than 10 hospital systems across the country have received funding to serve as navigators. Observers say the lack of participation by hospitals and medical groups in programs to help uninsured people sign up for exchange coverage is due to providers not knowing about these problems and to political pressure not to participate. It's seen as particularly a problem in states where elected officials oppose the Affordable Care Act and are resisting efforts to facilitate enrollment.
“We really want to see every hospital have this certification and capability,” said Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the AHA, said in the webinar. Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the CHA, called it “critical,” and Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the FAH, said it's a “must.”
“When people click on that capability to find local assistance, it would be a real shame if every hospital wasn't listed there because I think the public expects us to be there,” Umbdenstock added.
Click here to watch the entire webinar.
Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter: @MHjzigmond