Barron County Rejects Funds For Affordable Care Act Implementation


Barron County in northwestern Wisconsin has voted to reject money aimed at helping people navigate the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

It is the only county to reject state funding used to hire additional staff to help people with thousands of insurance applications after October 1, when ACA’s individual mandate goes into effect requiring those without insurance to purchase it through state exchanges. Barron County Administrator Jeff French says the move to accept the funding and add two staff wouldn’t add to the county’s budget and he didn’t expect it to be a controversial vote.

“I was taken aback that it wasn’t approved, when it’s a fully funded state mandate,” says French. He says the county board could decide to take up the issue again, take the money and add the positions – but the deadline is looming.

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“We would have liked to have the recruitment process done and the people here,” said French. “So when the October 1 deadline comes they’re completely trained and off we go.”

Board Supervisor Terry Henck was one of the no votes. He’s strongly opposed to the ACA but says that didn’t affect his decision not add the staff to help implement it.

“Right now I’m not comfortable creating a position that we’re not positive that we’re going to need,” says Henck. “They’re not clear at the federal level or the state level that the exchanges are going to be even operating yet.”

But French says from what he’s heard, the only thing that would stop the implementation of the ACA would be if Congress stopped funding the Internal Revenue Service, which is charged with enforcing it.