Growing Focus on Complete Census Count is Important for Health Care

February 13, 2020

Why is achieving the highest participation possible in the 2020 U.S. Census important to health care? Census data is used to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to states. The Medicaid program is by far the largest federal program in which census data is used to allocate matching funds. In 2015, over $300 billion in federal matching funds for Medicaid was distributed to states using census data. Undercounting people who live in Wisconsin costs the state precious health care and other dollars and can also impact political representation since U.S. Congressional seats are allocated based on state population.

To bolster Wisconsin’s participation in the 2020 Census, Governor Tony Evers established the Statewide Complete Count Committee through Executive Order #55. WHA Vice President, Policy Development Laura Rose was appointed to the committee, along with 40 other representatives from organizations across the state. The committee held its first meeting Feb. 11 in the Governor’s conference room in the State Capitol. The primary focus of the Complete Count Committee is to heighten awareness of the 2020 Census, encourage participation in the census and ensure fair and equal participation in government for everyone living in Wisconsin.

As the U.S. approaches Census Day on April 1, households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail. In-person followup will take place in areas in which census participation is low and will continue through late summer.

While Wisconsin overall had a respectable mail participation rate of 85.1% in the 2010 decennial census, many Wisconsin communities are designated as among the hardest to count in the country. This map shows the areas in Wisconsin most vulnerable to being undercounted. The population groups most likely to be undercounted include young children, rural populations, ethnic and racial minorities, transient individuals, individuals with disabilities, non-English speaking individuals, and those without Internet access.

Local Complete Count committees have been established and are working hard to hire census workers who know their communities and can locate and gain the trust of those living in these communities to encourage them to complete their census forms. The U.S. Census Bureau is aggressively recruiting census workers who will canvas communities with low participation.

For more information on the Complete Count Committee and the census in general, contact Laura Rose.

This story originally appeared in the February 13, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter