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Affordable Care Act (ACA) Initiatives

CSWE is partnering with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care (SSWLHC) to promote the social work community’s involvement in health care enrollment, specifically as Certified Application Counselors (CACs). CACs are trained staff or volunteers who help people understand, apply for, and enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

While 7 million people gained health coverage during the first Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, millions more remain uninsured, leaving them vulnerable to poor health outcomes and expensive out-of-pocket medical costs. Because of their experience working with diverse and under-served populations, more social workers with CAC training are needed to make the next open enrollment period (November 15, 2014–February 15, 2015) a success.

More about Certified Application Counselors

  • CAC organizations can include community health centers (or other health care providers), hospitals, and non-federal governmental or non-profit social service agencies. CMS certifies an organization as a CAC organization in states with a Federally-facilitated Marketplace (FFM) or State Partnership Marketplace (SPM).
  • Once certified, CAC organizations are responsible for certifying and training their staff members and volunteers as CACs*.
  • Training for staff/volunteers is free and available online. Learn more and apply here.
  • Get step-by-step instructions on how to become a CAC and learn more about social work's contribution to health care enrollment efforts in this webinar.

*CMS does not certify individuals to be CACs and does not certify organizations to be CAC organizations in SPMs. Prospective CAC organizations located in State-based Marketplaces (SBMs) should contact their SBM or go to the SBM’s website for information about the CAC program in that state.

How to Get Involved

Social Work Programs

  • Encourage eligible field placement sites to become CACs. Students gain valuable experience and positively impact the community by helping individuals get health insurance coverage.
  • Share your university’s resources with your local community. Partner with a local community health center to make your computer lab or library available for a day of outreach and/or enrollment. You can also team up with other local universities or campus organizations to raise awareness by printing and distributing flyers.
  • Share Information. Distribute educational materials to students, staff, faculty, and others about the Marketplace. Find resources here and check out these college and youth-specific flyers.
  • Become a Champion for Coverage. People need to know about the online Health Insurance Marketplace in order to sing up and get coverage. Become a Champion for Coverage by sharing information and resources with your networks and community partners.
  • Incorporate content on the Affordable Care Act into curriculum. Find resources here.


  • Ask if your field placement site is a CAC organization. If so, you can get free training to help people get health insurance coverage and be part of historic social reform.
  • Volunteer with a local CAC organization. Visit Find Local Health in states with an FFM or SPM to find application and enrollment assistance in your area. Many CACs accept students as volunteers and can provide you with the necessary training. If you are located in an SBM you should contact the SBM or go to the SBM’s website for information about the CAC program in that state.
  • Learn and share with social media. Follow and share information about this initiative through Twitter (@HealthCareGov, @CuidadoDeSalud, #GetCovered), Facebook, and You Tube.

Questions about this initiative? E-mail Anastasia Pruitt.