MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature planned Tuesday to convene then immediately end a special session called by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to expand Medicaid.
Rejecting expansion means Wisconsin will miss out on a one-time bonus of $1 billion in federal money provided under the federal coronavirus relief bill.
Both the Senate and Assembly planned to gavel into the session at 1 p.m. and end it straight away with no debate.
Democrats have for years advocated to expand eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program known as BadgerCare Plus. But Republicans have resisted full expansion, even though 38 other states have done it and taken the federal money that comes with it.
Evers last week called a special session for Tuesday, promising to use $850 million of the $1 billion in federal money the state would receive for a host of economic development projects. He called for saving the other $150 million.
“Don’t let politics get in the way of our economic recovery,” Evers tweeted Tuesday. “Expand BadgerCare so we can invest $1 billion into bouncing back from this pandemic.”
Republicans have said if Evers wanted to fund those projects, he could instead tap some of the $2.5 billion coming to the state under the coronavirus stimulus bill.
Accepting federal money available through the Affordable Care Act would increase the minimum income threshold to qualify from 100% of the federal poverty rate to 138%, which would increase the income eligibility for a single person from $12,880 a year to $17,774.
That would make about 91,000 more people eligible for BadgerCare Plus in Wisconsin.
Evers and Democrats have said it would be foolish for Wisconsin to pass up the additional federal money that comes with accepting Medicaid expansion. In addition to the one-time $1 billion approved under the coronavirus stimulus bill, Wisconsin would see about $635 million in additional savings over the next two years due to a higher federal reimbursement under Medicaid expansion, based on estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Wisconsin would have seen an additional $2.8 billion in savings between 2013 and 2019 had it accepted full Medicaid expansion, according to the Fiscal Bureau.