During the interview that provided the articles around the state outlining the Republican plan to undermine the state’s electorate and newly elected governor by keeping the governor out of the budget process…Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald let out a sigh and quick inhale about Medicaid expansion for Wisconsin. It caught a few by surprise including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who have this headline on their website: Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald isn’t ruling out Medicaid expansion
So has Sen. Fitzgerald seen the light and read the polls and absorbed why Wisconsin selected State School Superintendent Tony Evers over incumbent Governor Scott Walker this past November? Well maybe a little, but he doesn’t want to say, but he does, and he didn’t and he did, but he won’t. But here’s the very short story:
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald signaled Thursday he wouldn’t rule out using federal dollars to expand Medicaid — a move long opposed by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers and demanded by Democrats and Gov.-elect Tony Evers.
Fitzgerald told reporters in a wide-ranging interview that there isn’t much support for accepting the federal money to make the expansion among his GOP caucus, but that it’s also too early to say he would oppose doing so.
“I don’t see it right now, but there’s a lot of moving parts, as we know. So I don’t want to be presumptuous and rule it out,” he said.
Accepting the Medicaid expansion that is provided as part of the Affordable Care Act was one of the key planks in the campaign platform that Tony Evers ran on…and was elected on. It certainly should come up for discussion irregardless of the legislature’s instincts on the subject. It should have a public discussion and hearing and should come to the floor for a vote. And this expansion would save the taxpayers a sizable amount of money while increasing the number of Wisconsinites covered by health insurance.
My guess is Sen. Fitzgerald is priming the pump in case shortfalls in the next budget become seriously problematic and he can fill some of them by accepting the Medicaid expansion. A trial balloon to his base while offering an olive branch briefly to the governor.
The plan would provide coverage to more people and free up about $280 million in state money over two years that could be used for other purposes, according to preliminary estimates.
But again, let’s let House Speaker Robin Vos have his last words:
In October, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he would refuse to expand BadgerCare Plus, telling reporters, “Not going to happen. No way. Never.”
So once again. These guys control both houses of the legislature. They can prevent Tony Evers from doing what he wants to do. What are they afraid of?