Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, was adamant on Tuesday that the federal Medicaid expansion will not be a compromise issue, even if Assembly Republicans find themselves working with mixed government after the Nov. 6 election.
Vos said several times on Tuesday, both during and after a WisPolitics luncheon, that he believes and hopes Gov. Scott Walker will win his re-election fight and that he expects Republicans to maintain a majority in the Assembly, even if they lose some seats. However, he said, he will work with "whoever the governor is."
Still, Vos said, if Democrat Tony Evers is elected, he will work to ensure Republicans do not "repeal a single thing, not one, that we have done in the past eight years."
"Not gonna happen. No. Never," Vos said when asked whether the Assembly might revisit Walker's decision not to accept the federal Medicaid funds if Evers becomes governor.
Vos argued that increasing the number of people on Medicaid, even with more federal funding, would raise costs for providers and bring instability to the private sector.
"I don’t want more people on government health care," Vos said.
Evers' first ad in the general election was critical of Walker's refusal to accept the federal funds.
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said he thinks there is room for creative compromise on the expansion.
Pointing to Wisconsin's relatively low Medicaid reimbursement rates, Hintz said he thinks there could be bipartisan support for accepting the expansion money if some of those funds were used to boost reimbursements.
"I think it’d be really shortsighted for any legislator to continue to make one of the dumbest decisions we’ve made in the last 50 years," Hintz said.
If Democrats take the majority in the Assembly — a tall order, given the 28-seat margin Republicans currently hold over Democrats, but one Hintz said he's not ruling out — Hintz said the first piece of legislation they would introduce would be some form of the "fair maps" act, moving the state to a nonpartisan redistricting method.
Vos advocated for keeping the state's current approach, as dictated by the state constitution, arguing no person or commission can truly act independently, without partisan bias.
"I guess I can never say never, but I certainly believe the current process is the best way because it’s the most democratic," Vos said.
Asked for their predictions on electoral outcomes, Vos said the worst-case scenario for Republicans, from his perspective, is losing a handful of races and bringing the number of legislative seats they hold down to the upper 50s. Hintz did not offer a number, but gave a long list of races Democrats will target.