About CHA

Who We Are:

Community Health Advocates (CHA), a program of the Community Service Society, provides free and confidential individual counseling and educational community presentations to individuals, families, advocates and providers about health insurance in New York State.

Our network of community-based organizations and small business serving groups help New Yorkers access the health care they need, understand their health insurance options, and how the health care system works.

We help all New Yorkers: the privately insured, publicly insured, and uninsured.


What We Do:

One-on-One Assistance:

We provide one-on-one counseling for you to help resolve any concerns you may have in relation to health insurance for you or your family member. 

Centralized Helpline:

The CHA helpline is open from 9am – 4pm, Monday – Friday. Representatives can answer your questions about your health insurance options or about how your health insurance works. You can reach the helpline at 888-614-5400.

Community Presentations:

CHA gives presentations to educate individuals and the community about new health insurance options, changes in the health care law, and how it affects individuals. These presentations provide independent information pulled directly from the law and regulations. 

Small Business Assistance:

We help small businesses understand healthcare options for their employees, available programs to reduce costs, and assist employees with removing barriers to care.

Our History:

Community Health Advocates (CHA), originally named the New York City Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program (MCCAP), is one of the largest health care consumer assistance programs in the country.

CHA was launched in 1999 as a result of a report issued by the NYC Task Force on Medicaid Managed Care (a coalition of health consumers, advocates, providers, and consumers) that documented the serious difficulties Medicaid beneficiaries faced when switching to managed care. This report urged policymakers to create a health care ombudsprogram to address this issue. In order to ease the transition into managed care - and to assist health consumers more broadly - the New York City Council funded the Community Service Society of New York (CSS) to help NYC consumers enroll in health coverage and receive care. The Council selected CSS to design and operate the program because of its experience in providing community-based health education.

In October 2010, CSS received federal funding to expand its services to all of New York State as a provision of health care reform, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). CHA now offers assistance in more than 170 languages and continues to expand its reach into high-need communities throughout the State. In October 2011, CHA became funded under the New York State Exchange Establishment grant and added five more locally-based organizations to better meet the needs of New Yorkers around the State.

The Community Health Advocates program offers a compelling model for helping consumers navigate changes in our health care system. As health reform continues to evolve, Community Health Advocates monitors changes, providing expert assistance to individuals and service providers alike in order to ensure that everyone can access affordable, quality health care.

Get Involved:

Community Health Advocates is a free program dedicated to making health care affordable and accessible. If you share our commitment, please consider one of the following actions to help reach our goal of equitable health care for all!


Volunteers are an essential component of our helpline services, providing important advice to callers and answering their health care questions. Volunteers are required to go through an intensive training on public and private health insurance, as well as options for those who are uninsured. If you are interested in playing an important role in helping New Yorkers find health coverage, please contact Prisilia Rigaud at prigaud@cssny.org.


Are you a law, graduate, or undergraduate student interested in completing engaging projects on health care and health reform? Each semester, CHA offers meaningful internship experience to a select few students whose interests and field of study align with CHA’s goals.  If you are interested in interning at CHA, please contact Prisilia Rigaud at prigaud@cssny.org


CHA agencies are nonprofit organizations that rely on government and foundation support and donations from individuals. If you’d like to help CHA continue its services to high-need areas, you may make a contribution to Community Service Society (more information here) or one of the other 28 network agencies. Please click here for a list of agencies and links to their homepages where you can find out how to donate.


Have you been helped by CHA? Do you have a story related to health care that you’d like to share? Has the new health care reform benefited you?

We are always on the look out for compelling stories that showcase the importance of health care reform and CHA, as well as highlight the fundamental problems within the health care system. These stories are used for advocacy purposes to provide a deeper personal connection to these issues. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Elizabeth Prohasky at eprohasky@cssny.org.


CHA Advocates conduct outreach events and give community presentations on different health care topics. If you are interested in having CHA come to your community, please contact your nearby CHA agency or Nakia Outlaw at noutlaw@cssny.org.

  For information on any of these trainings or other ways to get involved, email cha@cssny.org or call our Helpline at  (888) 614-5400 .