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Wisconsin Republicans reject Medicaid expansion

Posted: 1:45 PM, May 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-09 14:45:34-04
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on Wisconsin budget (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

Wisconsin Republicans have voted to reject Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals to accept federal Medicaid expansion, legalize medical marijuana and increase the state minimum wage.

The Legislature’s GOP-controlled budget committee on Thursday voted along party lines to kill those proposals and dozens of other Evers initiatives. The vote came on the first meeting day of the panel as it works to reshape Evers’ two-year spending plan.

Democrats cited public opinion polls showing broad support for Medicaid expansion. Wisconsin is one of 13 states that have not taken expansion.

But Republicans say they don’t want to move an estimated 82,000 people onto the state Medicaid program, even though it would leverage $1.6 billion in new federal money for a host of other health care priorities.

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11:10 a.m.

The Republican co-chair of the Wisconsin Legislature’s budget committee says he is not open to a compromise on Medicaid expansion.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has proposed accepting full expansion and made it the cornerstone of his two-year budget proposal. Republicans on the budget-writing committee planned to kill the proposal on Thursday.

State Rep. John Nygren, a committee co-chair, says he would not accept a compromise, saying that would be “Medicaid light.”

Democratic committee members say they are open to a deal, but Republicans have not come forward with any proposals.

One Republican committee member, state Sen. Luther Olsen, has said he’s in favor of accepting the money like 37 other states have. Other Republicans have also said they were open to reaching a deal.

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8:55 a.m.

Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is urging voters to pressure Republican lawmakers not to kill his Medicaid expansion plan.

The Republican-controlled budget committee was to vote Thursday on removing Medicaid expansion and a host of Evers’ other priorities from his two-year spending plan. The vote would kill those priorities for now, but they could be re-introduced later.

Evers tweeted Thursday that the vote means Republicans would “gut funding” to “help moms and babies, increase dental care services, improve long-term care, and much more.”

Evers wants to leverage federal money for Medicaid expansion to increase spending on other health care needs by $1.6 billion.

Republicans object to adding 82,000 people to Wisconsin’s Medicaid program and say it would disrupt the private insurance market. Republicans control the Legislature and can block anything Evers wants.

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11:21 p.m.

Wisconsin Republicans are preparing to scrap expanding Medicaid, legalizing medical marijuana, raising the minimum wage and a host of other priorities of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

The vote Thursday in the Legislature’s budget committee comes as Republicans begin dismantling the Evers spending plan to create their own version to approve later this summer.

Evers and Democrats remain defiant, saying the public is on their side in support of expanding Medicaid. They ran on their promise to expand Medicaid and believe their victories in 2018 were due in large part to that position. Polls also show broad public support.

But Republican legislative leaders aren’t bending from their long-held opposition, even as some GOP lawmakers have publicly talked about trying to find a compromise.