MON PM Update: Evers announces partnership to boost Medicaid enrollment

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— With Republicans rejecting his call to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, Gov. Tony Evers today announced a new partnership aimed at boosting the number of state residents enrolled in the existing program.

In a news conference on the steps of the Capitol, Evers said the new partnership between the Department of Health Services and the Office of Commissioner of Insurance was designed to more widely distribute information about BadgerCare and private insurance options offered in the marketplace created by ACA.

“Getting our two agencies to work together to help ensure a smooth transition into private insurance and keeping a robust insurance marketplace vibrant will benefit all of Wisconsin,” he said.

Evers used the opportunity to continue lobbying for his Medicaid proposal. He noted that an estimated 82,000 people would be covered with an influx of federal dollars, which he said the general public overwhelmingly supports.

“Seventy percent of the people in Wisconsin indicated in the most recent polls that they support Medicaid expansion,” he said. “We’re going to continue to fight for that.”

JFC Co-chair John Nygren said in a statement he agreed with Evers’ push to “connect more Wisconsinites to coverage” but said his proposed Medicaid expansion was not the way to go about it.

“I do not believe that expanding welfare is the right path for our state to expand access to care and increase affordability,” the Marinette Republican said.

Under current law, the Medicaid program covers those making up the federal poverty line, which stands at just under $12,490 per year. Evers’ budget proposed expanding coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the poverty line.

But Nygren in his statement noted that those making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty line in Brown County were eligible for health care plans with deductibles as low as 18 cents per month.

“Instead of forcing individuals into government-run healthcare, we should prioritize connecting those who qualify for this highly-subsidized healthcare that they already are eligible for,” he said.

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm indicated the program’s “most intensive and important focus” would be on Wisconsinites who fall between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty line, who can fluctuate between Medicaid eligibility and private insurance.

Quizzed on whether the partnership could move forward without new Medicaid dollars, Palm said the program was designed to build on each other, but the two agencies could “operate them independently” should Medicaid expansion remain stalled.

See the release:

See Nygren’s statement:

— Evers indicated that he would be open to paying for road work without a gas tax increase but said any proposal “finding money to fix our damn roads” would have to be sustainable.

“If Republican leadership has an idea how we can magically do that without increasing the gas tax, we’ll certainly be looking for that,” he told reporters.

The guv included an 8-cent increase in his budget. But Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Journal Sentinel last week that Republicans in the Senate would not go for a gas tax increase. He indicated they were looking at other measures, such as increased vehicle registration fees, in order to up road revenues.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff today slammed that proposal, tweeting the GOP would have to “nearly double the vehicle registration fee to reach the level of revenue” the guv’s gas tax increase would.

“That’s not a solution that’s fair for the people of Wisconsin,” she tweeted.

— The Joint Finance Committee, which will be in tomorrow on Medicaid, plans to take up transportation, taxes and WEDC during a Thursday hearing.

The committee has already voted on K-12, Corrections, the UW System and state aid to local governments. Completing Medicaid, taxes and transportation would check off the rest of the big items on the committee’s to-do list.

The full agenda includes:

Office of the Commissioner of Insurance
Kickapoo Reserve Management Board
PSC–Broadband Provisions
PSC–Departmentwide and Energy Programs
Revenue–Tax Administration
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
JusticeVolkswagen Settlement
Transportation–Transportation Finance
Transportation–Local Transportation Aid
Transportation–Local Transportation Assistance
Transportation–State Highway Program

See the hearing notice:

— The Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance today announced a radio, mail and digital ad campaign urging lawmakers to “hold the line on property taxes.”

The group, part of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, declined to detail how much it plans to spend on the campaign other than it’s “significant.” The ads will run in key legislative districts, the group said.

The WHA released two radio ads, both of which feature a couple talking about their property taxes after putting their kids to bed.

In one, the husband says state lawmakers are considering a budget that would raise property taxes on working families.

“How can they be so clueless?” the wife says. “Wisconsin has the highest property taxes in the Midwest except for Illinois.”

In the other, the wife says raising property taxes even higher is unaffordable.

“Sounds like Wisconsin is at a fork in the road,” the husband says. “Hopefully, they will hold the line on property taxes. We already pay enough.”

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the property taxes on a mythical median-valued home would go up $56 in the first year of Gov. Tony Evers’ budget and $48 in the second year, increases of 2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Under current law, the property tax bill for that same home would go up $72 in the first year and $45 in the second.

Listen to the ads:

— In addition to four abortion bills, the state Senate plans to take up legislation Wednesday that would set standards and fees for wireless providers when they seek to install 5G infrastructure.

According to the bill authors, the wireless antennas for the new technology can be installed on existing structures such as utility poles or light poles. The bill would allow local governments to propose alternate locations for the antennas. But they also would be prohibited from exceeding state or federal regulations on several fronts.

It’s patterned after FCC standards that were established last fall.

Besides the 5G and abortion bills, everything else on the Senate calendar cleared committee unanimously. The 5G bill was voted out 4-1.

See the calendar:

— The Juvenile Justice Grant Committee today approved a final version of an application for counties interested in building youth lockups to house less serious offenders.

Under state law, applications were required to be submitted by March 31, but the committee had yet to finalize the application document at that point and instead accepted letters of interest.

Under the newly approved document, counties who previously expressed interest now have until July 1 to submit an application.

See the application:


FRIDAY: and discussion: Closing the urban-rural health care gap

The recent 2019 County Health Rankings report showed gaps in health care between suburban-urban areas and rural counties in Wisconsin. In southwestern Wisconsin, La Crosse County was ranked 6th among the state’s 72 counties in terms of health factors that drive healthy lifestyles such as lower tobacco and alcohol use; access to quality care, education, employment and social support; plus housing and water-air quality. But surrounding counties ranked between 19th and 59th.

Join us for a discussion on coping with these gaps in rural-urban health care. The cost to attend is free, thanks to the support of Health Tradition.

But you must register in advance.

WHAT: Closing the rural-urban health care gap

WHEN: Friday June 7, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. with the program going from noon to 1:15 p.m.

WHERE: The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern l 328 Front Street South Ste. 100, La Crosse WI 54601

FORMAT: Dr. Tim Bartholow, Chief Medical Officer of Health Tradition, will provide opening remarks, and then a panel of four experts will add commentary. The panelists include Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, Wally Orzechowski of the Southwest Community Action Program, Dr. Paul S. Mueller, chair of Mayo Clinic’s general internal medicine, and Dr. Erik Gundersen, medical director of Kwik Trip Center for Health and incoming president of the Wisconsin Medical Society.

The event is organized by and, non-partisan news organizations that regularly convene discussions of important public issues. Sponsored by Health Tradition.

To register, visit:



LRB-2617: Relating to prohibited practices of motor vehicle manufacturers, importers, and distributors and providing a penalty. By Reps. Ballweg and Fields and Sens. Marklein and Ringhand.

Track bills for free:

Capital Times: Gov. Tony Evers announces new health care partnership to increase access, affordability

Capital Times: Gov. Tony Evers won’t say whether he’ll support budget without gas tax hike

State Journal: Tony Evers launches plan to boost health insurance enrollment

Journal Sentinel: Tony Evers continues to push Medicaid expansion despite Republican opposition

Journal Sentinel: Human trafficking is all over Wisconsin, but subtle. You might have seen victims and never known.

USA Today: Queen Elizabeth’s glittery state banquet for Trumps begins with toasts and national anthems

CNN: Trump’s UK visit gets off to a booming start, with guns, guards and insults

CBS: The revolution will be online: How Democrats are trying to catch up to Trump

CBS: Trump says Russia told U.S. “most of their people” have left Venezuela

CBS: House Judiciary to hold series of hearings on Mueller report

POLITICO: House Dems eye $1 trillion ‘minibus’ in first step to avoid shutdown

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– Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. Featured speaker is angel investor Jeff Rusinow.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics executive session on AB 38, relating to University of Wisconsin research contracts.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Workforce Development executive session on AB 120, relating to homelessness case management services; AB 144, relating to skills enhancement grants; and AB 122, relating to employment and training activities for homeless populations, the Council on Workforce Investment and local workforce development boards.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Family Law public hearing. Members are to take testimony on bills related to child placement and child support.

– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 10:05 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Workforce Development public hearing on AB 250, relating to examinations and licensure of sign language interpreters.

– 10:30 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Mental Health public hearing on AB 118, relating to increasing funding for the child psychiatry consultation program.

– 10:30 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform executive session on AB 119, relating to grants to homeless shelters; and AB 124, relating to grants to defray housing costs and for diversion programming.

– 11:30 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy executive session on AB 234, relating to limiting the authority of the state and political subdivisions to regulate certain wireless facilities and authorizing political subdivisions to impose setback requirements for certain mobile service support structures.

– 1 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities executive session on AB 235, relating to exception from local levy limits for political subdivisions receiving certain utility aid payments.

– 1 p.m.: Joint Committee on Finance executive session. Members are to take up the budgets for the Department of Health Services, the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board and the Department of Children and Families.

– 1:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Transportation public hearing on AB 249, relating to bills making honorary designations of state highways or bridges.

– 1:35 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Transportation executive session on AB 249, relating to bills making honorary designations of state highways or bridges.

– 2 p.m.: PSC hearing.

– 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Sen. LaTonya Johnson’s birthday fundraiser.

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