Press Release: Gov. Evers, OCI, DHS Celebrate Five Successful Years of the Health Care Coverage Partnership 

Office of Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers, OCI, DHS Celebrate Five Successful Years of the Health Care Coverage Partnership 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, together with Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) Commissioner Nathan Houdek and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Kirsten Johnson, this week are celebrating five years since the governor launched the DHS and OCI Health Care Coverage Partnership (Partnership). This comes as this week, OCI Commissioner Houdek and DHS Secretary Johnson hosted press conferences in Madison and Milwaukee to celebrate this Partnership, which has contributed to growing enrollment in the individual health insurance marketplace in Wisconsin and helped the state respond and adapt during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Photos from the event in Madison are available here and here. Photos from the event in Milwaukee are available here and here

“Every Wisconsinite deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare, and the health and well-being of our state and our economy depend on the health and well-being of our communities,” said Gov. Evers. “I am proud to celebrate this important milestone anniversary of the successful Health Care Coverage Partnership here in Wisconsin—and looking ahead, I know we are ready to set new goals and forge a path forward that will further reduce our uninsured rate, strengthen the individual health insurance market, and educate more consumers in the years to come.”

The Partnership was tasked with supporting outreach and enrollment, improving coordination between DHS and OCI, and promoting the overall well-being of Wisconsinites through greater healthcare access. Since its inception, the Partnership has included representatives from healthcare and insurance providers, navigators, and agents, as well as consumer, government, and community organizations.

During the 2020 Open Enrollment Period, the first after the creation of the Partnership, 195,498 Wisconsinites enrolled in coverage. During the 2024 Open Enrollment Period, 266,327 Wisconsinites signed up for health insurance on, record-high number of Wisconsinites enrolled and a 20 percent increase in enrollment from the prior 2023 period.

“Governor Evers has made healthcare access a priority since day one, and this Partnership has been a shining example of the administration’s efforts to connect the dots and increase enrollment and health insurance literacy,” said OCI Commissioner Houdek. “Through the Partnership, we have built a solid foundation of collaboration and coordination thanks to consistent engagement from all our stakeholders, and we look forward to making this Partnership even stronger in the coming years.”

The Partnership consists of four workgroups that meet regularly throughout the year to make progress toward the goals set forth by Gov. Evers. These include Marketing, Data, Outreach and Education, and Workforce and Capacity workgroups. The Outreach and Education workgroup recently incorporated its work into the reinvigorated Regional Enrollment Networks (REN).

The Marketing workgroup includes representatives from OCI, Covering Wisconsin, federally qualified health centers, insurers, and other organizations. Since 2019, they have worked to coordinate messaging across digital, physical, and earned media platforms that encourage health insurance enrollment. In 2020, this workgroup developed and launched as an accessible resource for consumers to get reliable, accurate, and timely information about health coverage options. has had 200,000 website users since its launch, with over 325,000 page views. Last year’s promotion efforts by participating workgroup agencies resulted in over 40 million impressions in 2023.

The Data workgroup shares data resources, makes data more understandable for stakeholders, and provides input on OCI and DHS data-related projects. Members of this workgroup have supported the publication of BadgerCare Plus enrollment and renewal data when federal changes resulted in the transition to benefit renewals with the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency when more than 1.6 million BadgerCare Plus members needed to see if they remained eligible for healthcare benefits.

“This Partnership makes it easier for people to enroll in health care coverage by bringing together insurers, health plans, and navigators,” said DHS Secretary Johnson. “Health insurance, whether through BadgerCare Plus,, or an employer, helps people access the care they need.”

The Partnership has also supported the development and expansion of REN, where outreach and enrollment efforts can best reflect the distinct cultural and regional needs of local communities. The former Outreach and Education workgroup of the Partnership was incorporated into the REN efforts. RENs provide a venue for education, outreach, support, and open communication between local and statewide partners, state agencies, and community members, all working towards improved access to health coverage and care. There are eight regional RENs and two affinity-based RENs working to support Latino and Hmong communities around the state.

The Workforce and Capacity workgroup is focused on supporting Wisconsin’s workforce that supports health insurance enrollment, literacy, and advocacy. From navigators and certified application counselors to health insurance agents, Wisconsinites depend on assistance from these experts.

“The relationship building was a dominant element of this workgroup, and we greatly appreciated the new partnerships that emerged between key stakeholders in the health care access space to address learning opportunities and strategies to promote pro-active problem resolution,” said Bobby Peterson, executive director of ABC for Health Inc. and Workforce and Capacity Workgroup Chair. “Throughout the unwinding and in the face of hospital closures in Western Wisconsin, we collaborated to nip issues in the bud before larger issues emerged.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Partnership and its workgroups pivoted quickly to respond to a changing healthcare landscape and evolving regulations. As Medicaid redeterminations were paused and a special enrollment period was opened, Wisconsinites faced a new health care landscape and depended on reliable information from state agencies and Partnership stakeholders to navigate it.
An online version of this release is available here.