A key component of Gov. Tony Evers' agenda — accepting federal money to expand Medicaid — is supported by 62 percent of Wisconsin voters, according to a poll released Thursday.
Evers has pledged to include a provision to accept the federal Medicaid expansion in his first budget, which he will introduce in about a month. But Republicans who control the Legislature have said it's a no-go.
A Marquette University Law School poll of 800 registered voters found that 25 percent oppose the expansion and 12 percent have no opinion on the question. Broken down by party, 43 percent of Republicans support the expansion, 55 percent of independents support it and 88 percent of Democrats support it.
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, accepting the expansion would bring in about $180 million per year in federal funding, and the number of people covered by Medicaid would grow by about 75,000. Republicans oppose the move because it would put more people on government-sponsored health care.
"It’s an important part of our program and we will respectfully submit that as part of our budget and fight for it," Evers told reporters earlier this month after meeting with Republican lawmakers. "We feel very confident that we will win that fight."
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told reporters after Evers' State of the State address on Tuesday that the governor should "give up" on the idea.
"No," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, when asked if there is room to compromise on the issue.
A smaller margin of voters support Evers' efforts to remove Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. Forty-eight percent of voters said Wisconsin should withdraw from the lawsuit, while 42 percent said the state should stay on board. Nine percent had no opinion.
Evers' attempts to withdraw the state's support have caused considerable confusion in the Capitol, thanks to a law passed by the Republican Legislature before he took office removing his ability to leave a lawsuit without legislative approval.
In his State of the State address on Tuesday, Evers said he had "fulfilled a promise I made to the people of Wisconsin by directing Attorney General (Josh) Kaul to withdraw from a lawsuit that would gut coverage for the 2.4 million Wisconsinites who have pre-existing conditions."
Republican leaders, questioning the statement, said it appeared Evers had directed Kaul to act illegally. A memo prepared by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau confirmed that Kaul could not exit the lawsuit without the approval of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee.
An Evers spokeswoman then said the governor had not directed Kaul to take "any specific course of action," he had only "withdrawn his authority for the lawsuit."
In a letter to Evers released Thursday, Kaul wrote that the Department of Justice "does not have statutory authority to withdraw the state from the ACA litigation absent approval from the Joint Committee on Finance."
The poll found that 41 percent of voters strongly disapproved of the legislation passed during the December lame-duck session, while 15 percent strongly approved. However, the Legislature had an overall approval rating of 52 percent.