MADISON, Wis. — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature has quickly ended a special session called by Gov. Tony Evers to discuss expanding BadgerCare, passing a measure to end the session in less than 30 seconds.
Huddled in a corner in the Assembly chambers, the proposal to end the session with no action pass by voice vote.
Expanding the state’s Medicaid program would have given the state a one-time bonus of $1 billion in federal money, which Gov. Evers planned to use on a number of projects across the state, including in Republican districts, to help aid the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s breathtaking that after a year of working to prevent us from responding to COVID-19, Republicans would rather keep playing politics with our economic recovery than invest $1 billion into our state’s economy and support communities in their own districts,” Gov. Evers said in a statement shortly after the vote to end the session.
A total of 38 other states have already expanded Medicaid and taken the federal money that comes with it, including states run by Republicans, like Iowa and Ohio.
Wisconsin Republicans announced their intentions to immediately gavel out of the session with no discussion last week, just as they had in previous special sessions called by Gov. Evers for police reform, gun control and unemployment.
“Everyone who wants insurance in our state has access and options,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said in the joint statement last week. “We will not shift tens of thousands of people off their private insurance to a government-run system.”
“I think we should be doing everything we can to make sure our economy bounces back from this pandemic, and this special session was about finding common ground and getting bipartisan support for our efforts,” Gov. Evers said in his statement Tuesday. “Clearly, it’s disappointing Republicans don’t seem to take that responsibility seriously, and they’ll have to explain to Wisconsinites why they made the decision they did today.”