Dear Editor: In May 2019, Wisconsin Republicans voted down the expansion of Medicaid proposed by Gov. Tony Evers. This decision by Republicans cost Wisconsin $1 billion in additional federal funds, funds that went to the 37 other states that accepted the expansion. Had the proposed Medicaid expansion been approved and the federal funds accepted, Wisconsin would have available approximately an additional $1.07 billion to spend on other health care needs around the state.
Now, we are confronted with a grave public health crisis as the coronavirus takes hold in Wisconsin. Gov. Evers has declared an emergency, which will allow access to state resources for patient care and public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus. But wouldn’t it have been helpful to have had those 1.07 billion additional dollars to address this crisis head-on? To pay for testing, currently insufficient and unavailable, except to the most seriously ill? To purchase respirators and ventilators for critically ill patients? To purchase necessary protective gear for Wisconsin’s health care workers and first responders, who are at this point facing a shortage of supplies?
Wisconsin voters would be well-advised to consider this awful outcome the next time Wisconsin legislators are tempted to reject federal funds.
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