Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office


November 09, 2017
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
County Board

Program to assist low-income people with ACA sign-up took huge federal cut


The Dane County Board is poised to help provide emergency funds to offset major cuts to an agency created to guide residents through health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.


The full Board at its 7 p.m. meeting on Thursday in the City-County Building will consider a resolution to fill a gap in federal support for Covering Wisconsin, which helps low-income and non-English speakers navigate the insurance system. CWI is affiliated with UW Extension and has operated here since 2014.

In addition to Obamacare assistance, CWI assists consumers in gaining access to other services related to public health, including Medicaid and free meals for school children.


“These cuts were just announced in September so everyone has been scrambling in advance of the next signup period,” said County Supervisor Jenni Dye of Fitchburg. “The city and county have both stepped up here at the last minute to help this really important agency.”


The city of Madison and Dane County are sharing $107,148 in costs via the jointly-operated Public Health Department (PHMDC). The Common Council approved the funding earlier this fall.


Insurance navigators fill an essential role in meeting the diverse needs of lower-income consumers. They can help enroll people in Medicaid or private insurance plans during a single appointment and location.


Over the past year, CWI had appointments with 1,708 Dane County consumers, enrolling 595 in marketplace insurance coverage and 265 in Medicaid coverage.

In September, less than two months before the open enrollment period was to start, CWI was notified that financial support for outreach and enrollment services would be reduced by 42 percent or $214, 294 for Dane County.


“The City of Madison and Dane County quickly responded together in the face of action by the Trump Administration to cut this vital insurance navigator program,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “They couldn’t kill Obamacare outright so instead they just made it harder for people to sign up.”


Also Thursday, the Board will consider accepting funding from the Wisconsin Department of Justice for county staff training to address implicit bias and racial anxiety in juvenile cases. This training will be conducted by the Perception Institute and will allow agency personnel to further their education and experience with the brain science of implicit bias.