The Republican-controlled state legislature is expected to take no action on Tuesday during a special session called by Gov. Tony Evers to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin and accept $ 1 billion in additional federal funds.
Evers called the special session last week and proposed a bill that would add Wisconsin to a list of 38 other states and Washington, DC, which have expanded Medicaid since 2014, when it was first proposed in under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion would extend Medicaid health benefits to an additional 91,000 people in Wisconsin by raising the income cap from 100% of the federal poverty level, which is $ 26,500 for a family of four, to 138%, or $ 36,570.
The billion dollars is an additional incentive from the federal government for states that have yet to expand. Evers proposed a multitude of ways to spend that money, including $ 200 million for broadband internet expansion, $ 100 million for lead pipe replacement, $ 100 million for bridge and road projects projects and funding for more than a dozen local construction projects across the state.
Republicans in Wisconsin have opposed the expansion for years, calling it an unnecessary increase in welfare and arguing that it could lead to additional costs in Wisconsin in the future, if federal support were to wane. . At least one state, New York, has struggled to keep up with rising costs since accepting the expansion.
“Anyone who wants insurance in our state has access and options,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said last week in a prepared press release. “Our unique solution in Wisconsin is working and we will not be moving tens of thousands of people from private insurance to a government-run system.”
Republicans say there are many options for affordable health insurance in the private market. GOP leaders on the Legislative Assembly Budget Committee recently rejected the governor’s plan to include the expansion in the next two-year state budget, just as they did two years ago.
However, Evers has vowed to continue pushing for expansion, even in the face of almost certain legislative defeat.
âEven if they come in and out of the hammer (the special session), we will continue to advocate for it,â the governor said at an event in Reedsburg on Monday. “A billion dollars is a lot of money. It’s a lot of money for the state of Wisconsin.”
In Reedsburg, the governor highlighted one of his projects proposed for federal incentive funding: $ 220,000 to renovate part of a historic school building into a community center.
At the event, city administrator Tim Becker called the project “very necessary”.
However, GOP lawmakers who represent the region, Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, and Representative Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, called the governor’s event dishonest. They said they were not invited to the press conference and argued Reedsburg officials never asked for state money for the project.
“Our communities deserve better than to be used as pawns in some insincere political ploy, “Marklein and Kurtz said in a prepared statement.” We are disappointed that the governor gave up a false flag at this press conference today in an attempt to score political points. We know our citizens are too smart to fall for this charade. “
A number of health care groups across the state have lobbied to accept the expansion of Medicaid in recent years. On Monday, the Committee for the Protection of Healthcare, a national advocacy group, held a press conference highlighting the support of some Wisconsin doctors for the change.
âMany of our friends, family and neighbors fall through the cracks and find themselves without adequate coverage through their own fault,â said Dr. Madelaine Tully, Milwaukee County family physician. “As a doctor, I have seen what happens when people find themselves without coverage.”
Tully and colleagues argued that expanding Medicaid would save taxpayers money by providing more preventive care to those in need, thereby avoiding more expensive care that often has to be absorbed by providers. if the invoices remain unpaid.
âWisconsin has a golden opportunity right now,â said Dr. Brian Ewert, a nephrologist at Marshfield. “We have already wasted billions in savings.”