Wirch: Taxpayers are paying the price | Letters

In August, voters in deep-red Missouri voted to provide more people with health insurance and save taxpayer dollars by accepting federal Medicaid expansion. Missouri is the latest state to take this no-brainer of a deal. Wisconsin hasn’t, and it’s costing us money and jeopardizing people’s health.

For years, Wisconsin Republicans have played politics, resisting any attempt to accept the federal Medicaid expansion offered through the Affordable Care Act. Under Scott Walker, they refused a vote on any Democratic legislation on the issue. When Gov. Evers included Medicaid expansion in his first budget proposal, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee were finally forced to vote, and they killed the proposal. No facts or public opinion could sway them.

Wisconsin taxpayers are paying the price. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, accepting Medicaid funding would save $324.5 million in state taxpayer money and bring in $1.6 billion in federal funds in the current budget cycle alone. That would have been put to good use here, providing coverage for an additional 82,000 Wisconsinites, including 2,600 in Kenosha County and 3,300 in Racine County. Instead, we’re subsidizing other states. When put this way, it’s easy to see why Marquette Law polls, considered the gold standard in Wisconsin, have consistently found 62-70% of Wisconsin voters favor Medicaid expansion.

The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting workplace shutdowns have cost thousands of jobs, and for many, a lost job means lost healthcare coverage. Think of the good that could be done by agreeing to federal Medicaid expansion.

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