GREEN BAY, Wis. New Marquette Law School poll results show 70 percent say the state should expand Medicaid coverage. Governor Tony Evers stressed those numbers during a roundtable in Green Bay on Wednesday.
Gov. Tony Evers leads a roundtable discussion on Medicaid expansion and health issues in Green Bay on April 10, 2019 (WBAY photo)
The Medicaid expansion is something Republicans have opposed for some time.
The governor says the Medicaid expansion would give 82,000 more Wisconsinites affordable and accessible health care. He says passing the expansion would also save the state more than $320 million.
"Seventy percent of the people of Wisconsin want these services, and these services come from some smart investments on the state's part, drawing down those federal dollars to make sure that we have a better health care system in Wisconsin," said Governor Tony Evers.
Even with 70 percent of survey takers supporting the Medicaid expansion, Republicans say there is an education piece people are missing.
"The problem with taking the money is, it creates a situation whereas the federal government starts stopping funding into the states, Wisconsin taxpayers would have to start picking up the difference," said Rep. David Steffen, (R-Green Bay).
Wisconsin Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm says the money saved through the Medicaid expansion would be used to fill gaps in other health programs in the state.
"They range from investments in our long-term care system, investments in behavioral health as the governor mentioned, to continue to tackle the opioid epidemic and other issues that we face in behavioral health," said Palm.
Still, Republican lawmakers worry the dollars the state would pick up would be used to fund other priorities unrelated to health.
"I think there's fairly significant gulfs between where the legislature and the governor are at right now, in part because the governor hasn't provided a clear prioritization of what he's looking to do," said state Sen. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere).
Gov. Evers says he will continue fighting for the Medicaid expansion because there is no backup plan if the expansion doesn't pass through the legislature.