Policy Priorities

NAMI Dane County has a strong presence in the community advocating for county and local policies that will ensure that people affected by mental illness get the help they need. We advocate on a variety of issues at the local, state, and national levels, which are described in more detail below. 

Youth mental health

Youth deserve to have supportive and safe spaces in which to raise their voices on issues and policies affecting their mental health.

NAMI Dane County also advocates for early identification and treatment by promoting First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs and bringing mental health education to schools.

jail diversion

The Dane County Jail holds a disproportionate number of people with mental illness, with roughly 46% of inmates on psychotropic medications at any given time. We need to ensure there are jail diversion programs in place so that non-violent offenders with mental illness are connected to community-based treatment alternatives, not jail.

With this in mind, NAMI Dane County advocates for investment of more resources in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement and corrections officers, mobile crisis response teams, community-based mental health treatment programs, and mental health jail courts. These measures are more cost-effective and have been shown to reduce arrests, jail days, hospital stays and total criminal justice expenditures.

Read NAMI Dane County's position statement on reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in the Dane County Jail.


Family members often serve as the caregiver of their loved one with mental illness, yet do not receive the support or training they need to better help their loved ones. This is often because of stigma, hard to navigate mental health care services, expensive out of pocket costs, and a narrow reading of health privacy laws.

NAMI Dane County advocates for peer-led education and support programs as an integrated part of mental health treatment. We actively partner with community organizations to offer family support and education programs, including NAMI Family-to-Family and NAMI Basics. We also encourage the county to finance development and implementation of these kinds of programs so they are readily accessible. 

Wisconsin medicaid waiver application

Medicaid links nearly 10 million Americans to mental health services and supports. If Medicaid erodes, accessing mental health care will get even harder. One way states can make changes to traditional Medicaid requirements is through waivers - if approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Wisconsin plans to apply for a Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver to revamp its existing Medicaid program. Here are NAMI Dane County's key areas of concern:

  • Work requirements
  • Premiums to 0% of poverty
  • Lockout for non-payment
  • Lifetime limits on Medicaid

With priorities shifting at the federal level, more than ever is at stake. Click here to read more about this issue and where NAMI Dane County stands.

What can you do? There is a 30‐day comment period for public input before Wisconsin can submit the waiver application. Written comments on the proposed changes are welcome and will be accepted from April 19, 2017, through May 19, 2017. Written comments may be sent to the Division of Medicaid Services at:

    P.O. Box 309
    Madison, WI 53707-0309
    Fax: 608-266-1096
    Email: Wisconsin1115CLAWaiver@dhs.wisconsin.gov

american health care act of 2017

The House voted Thursday, May 4th to pass the amended American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) by a vote of 217-213. The AHCA rips apart America’s safety net, Medicaid, and will result in millions of Americans losing mental health coverage by 2026.

How does Congress’ health care bill affect mental health?

  • The AHCA strips $800 billion from Medicaid over the next 10 years, forcing states to slash mental health services.
  • 24 million Americans will lose insurance for mental health care.

Allows states to:

  • Drop coverage of mental health and substance use (one of the essential health benefits) from insurance plans
  • Charge people higher premiums if they have a pre-existing condition, like depression or anxiety
  • Create high-risk pools, which are another way of charging people with mental illness more money and providing less coverage

How did your Rep vote?

See how your Representative voted here. We’ll send out an alert as soon as the vote is entered in the Congressional record (which will let us set up customized messages based on votes).

What next?

The AHCA will head next to the Senate where it has met with some vocal opposition thanks, in part, to NAMI advocates. But, the fight’s not over. Stay tuned and we will send you next steps.

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