(MADISON) – Republicans on the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance voted to remove Medicaid expansion, along with 130 additional items, from the budget proposed by Governor Tony Evers. The move comes after an April poll found that 70 percent of Wisconsinites support expanding Medicaid.

“I've traveled to listening sessions across our state and the feedback has been clear: people want Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset). “We need to listen to the people and ensure that Wisconsin residents have access to the health care they need.”

Governor Evers’ budget leverages Medicaid expansion to bring in $1.6 billion in new federal funds to make historic investments in the health and wellbeing of Wisconsinites. Medicaid expansion would also reduce the state funding match requirement for the federal-state program, meaning 82,000 more residents could gain access to affordable health insurance while saving state taxpayers $324.5 million in avoided costs.

“With rising demand for long-term care and behavioral health services, it is unacceptable to leave resources on the table and have the state pay more money for less coverage,” continued Schachtner.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state’s refusal to join 36 other states in expanding Medicaid has cost state taxpayers $1.1 billion since 2014. In addition to forgone federal dollars, the committee’s vote creates a $1.4 billion hole in the governor’s budget plan.