Wisconsin Republicans swiftly kill Medicaid expansion

Published: May. 25, 2021 at 10:05 AM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 2:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature convened then immediately ended a special session called by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to expand Medicaid.

The move dashes the state’s chances for claiming $1 billion in federal funding to expand Medicaid that was included in the coronavirus stimulus bill.

The Senate was in session for less than 10 seconds and Assembly was done in under 40 seconds. There was no debate in either chamber.

“To say the actions of Republicans in the Legislature was a missed opportunity doesn’t even come close,” Gov. Tony Evers said during a stop in Green Bay Tuesday afternoon.

Democrats have for years advocated to expand eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program known as BadgerCare Plus, but Republicans have resisted.

38 other states have expanded Medicaid and taken the federal money that comes with it.

Tuesday afternoon, members of the Wisconsin GOP sent a letter to Evers regarding the expansion of Medicaid, saying the expansion would increase the number of Wisconsinites on government assistance by more than 90,000 people.

The letter also mentioned the 2017 Wisconsin Act 138 and the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan becoming law in February of 2018, which directed the state to look for federal funds for the reinsurance program through a waiver. According to the letter, the waiver is available specifically for states to manage how the Affordable Care Act is implemented for its own residents.

Lawmakers say the program has led to more private insurance carriers remaining on the federal exchange, which gives people more options for coverage.

In the letter, lawmakers wrote that by adding childless, working-aged adults who qualify for assistance on the federal exchange, taxpayers would be responsible for covering some of the extra costs.

The full letter to Evers can be found below.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin State Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee), issued the following statement regarding the session:

“During a once-in-a-century deadly pandemic, communities of color were hit especially hard all across our nation. Wisconsin has some of the worst infant mortality rates for African American children and is deemed as the worst place in the country to raise a Black child. It is disturbing to see Republicans still treat Wisconsinites like political pawns rather than human beings that have a right to afford quality health care. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that legislative Republicans again turned their back on the people they are supposed to represent and did not even show up to debate why. It is a dangerous pattern for Republicans who control the Legislature to ignore the will of the people in our state, especially when it jeopardizes the health of our families and rejects one billion dollars that could be spent on improving our communities.”

Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee)

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