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Kapenga (copy)

Sen. Chris Kapenga

A group of Republican lawmakers says a new study released Tuesday justifies their opposition to a Democratic proposal to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin.

The study, conducted by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy, determined that the expansion would shift $600 million per year in costs to people covered by private insurance. 

CROWE director Noah Williams attributed the figure in part to the state's relatively low rate of uninsured residents, which the report found is the lowest of any state that did not expand Medicaid. 

Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, said in a news conference the report offers evidence that "it doesn't make sense to put the taxpayers at risk" by accepting the federal funds. Kapenga was joined by three other Republican lawmakers.

"The idea that government decreasing, in any way shape or form, the cost curve in health care is now firmly laughable," said Sen. David Craig, R-Big Bend.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has pledged to include a provision to accept the federal Medicaid expansion in his first budget, which he will introduce later this month. Wisconsin is one of 14 states that have not taken the expansion dollars.

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.

Evers said Monday during an interview with WISN-TV reporter Mike Gousha that he thinks most opposition to the expansion stems from anti-government sentiment and opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

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Evers said he will go "directly to the people of Wisconsin" to drum up support for the plan.

"The people, frankly, who are part of the system support it. The people who are shut out of the system support it," Evers said.

A Marquette University Law School poll released last month found that 62 percent of Wisconsin voters support accepting the Medicaid expansion.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.