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Speaker Vos open to negotiating Gov. Evers’ health care proposals

MADISON (WKOW) — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the state could use the budget surplus to pay some of Governor Evers’ health care proposals, instead of accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid.

Estimates show expanding Medicaid or BadgerCare in Wisconsin would free up about $320 million over the next two years, which would help pay for a handful of health care proposals in Governor Evers’ budget, like eliminating a wait-list for children with disabilities to get services. However, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said regardless of the surge of dollars it could bring to the state, he would rather use money the state already has.

“I think we have a record amount of money that we can spend on things like the children’s long term health insurance program, that we don’t need to raise taxes or push off costs on somebody else,” said Vos. “We should use the resources and we haven’t focused those on the priorities (that) we agree on.”

The Children’s Long-Term Support Waiver Program provides services to children with physical and/or developmental disabilities. It allows them to live at home and receive care from family members instead of an institution. Governor Evers wants to boost funding for the program by an additional $36 million as thousands of children are still on a waiting list to enter.

For months, Speaker Vos said expanding Medicaid is a “non-starter”, and his Republican colleagues repeatedly voice opposition because they believe it will drive up costs for those using private insurance.

“We have a study that shows that while there might be a one-time sugar high of money that would be injected into the state budget, it’s offset by increases and people who have private sector health insurance,” said Vos. “Putting even more people under government-run health care would drive up the cost of the people in the private sector.”

Governor Evers said he’s pleased to hear the Speaker is open to using the budget surplus but remains disappointed he won’t cave on Medicaid expansion.

“I mean, even a University of Wisconsin-Madison study just recently said it’s (a) money saver,” said Evers.

The study he’s referring to was recently released by UW-Madison Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy and shows Medicaid could save nearly $100 million annually. The report explains it would result in a reduction in uncompensated care costs, and the savings would exceed the costs to private insurers.

Competing studies show different outcomes if Wisconsin expects the federal funds. The UW’s study contradicts a study by Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty that revealed Medicaid expansion would result in increased costs to families, with private insurance up to $700 per year for a family of four and in turn costing Wisconsin over $600 million.

Flander and Williams wrote the study in February and denounced UW’s study, claiming their ideology is “in-line with similar studies by academics and scholars across the ideological spectrum.”

The dueling studies provide Democrats and Republicans with material on that matter. The Republican controlled Joint-Finance Committee has yet to begin the process of digesting which proposals in Governor Evers’ budget will make it. Evers does have the power to veto any legislation that reaches his desk which could force both sides to compromise.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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