By: Joe Bachman 5/31/19 Stevens Point News
STEVENS POINT — State and local legislators joined Governor Tony Evers in a Medicaid Town Hall on Friday, May 31. He was joined by Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) and Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point).
Held at the Dreyfus University Center, Gov. Evers touched on several proposals laid out in his Medicaid expansion plan. Utilizing federal funds, he hopes to bring $1.6 billion dollars back into the state, which according to Evers, would save Wisconsin taxpayers $320 million dollars.
“You guys vote — you talk, you make things happen — we have to make things happen,” said Evers. “We have an opportunity of a lifetime. We can change things.”
Evers believes this expansion would add coverage for 82,000 Wisconsinites, which includes investments in rural healthcare, behavioral health services, preventing childhood lead poisoning, enhancing benefits and services, and much more.
In addition, documents provided at the town hall broke down the hopeful investment in Portage County. This includes:
-$7.1 million in Medicaid expansion to residents
-$382,000 in behavioral health access
-$579,000 in preventative childhood lead poisoning
-$404,000 in dental health services access
-$790,000 in Medicaid benefit expansion
-$633,000 in funding for physicians
-$3.5 million in hospital funding
-$651,000 for long-term care programs
-$6.9 million increase for Medicaid, BadgerCare Plus, SeniorCare, FoodShare, and other programs like it
-$62,000 in mental health consultation programs
Many in the audience shared personal stories of the difficulties of sometimes obtaining healthcare, and how it has affected their loved ones.
“That is how we win this issue; and by win I mean make sure everyone has access to affordable health care, because in a moral society that is what we do,” said Shankland to audience members. “We take those personal stories and we bring them to our legislators and we demand, regardless of what their gerrymandered districts look like, that they conduct the will of the people, or they can leave. It’s that simple.” State Democrats are looking to reach across the aisle for bi-partisan support on the issue, which some feel is a no-brainer for Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin.
“It’s so important that we work through the political differences and figure out a way to get that Medicaid expansion money,” said Kind. “–stop sitting on the sidelines; this is really entering the phase of ridiculousness.”
On Tuesday, June 4, the state budget committee will meet, as well as the Joint Finance Committee’s vote on the Department of Health Services. State Republicans took out Medicaid expansion out of the vote, but have the ability to add it at any time.