Gov. Evers faces challenges in passing state budget

WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- On Thursday, Julie Willems Van Dijk with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said the governor hopes to expand funding for Medicaid which would help the 82,000 Wisconsin residents who are currently uninsured.

Democratic Governor Tony Evers will likely have a tough time passing his version of the state budget with the Republican-controlled legislature. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to be far apart on the issue of Medicaid funding.

“We are not going to look at a plan B right now,” stated Willems Van Dijk. “We think this is plan A and this is the best investment for the people of Wisconsin.”

For several weeks Governor Evers has toured the state to promote what he’s calling “The People’s Budget.” After working closely with the Department of Health Services, Governor Evers says expanding funding for Medicaid is his top priority, but Republicans are saying it’s a nonstarter.

“There are some areas that we are going to find common ground with the Governor,” explain Republican State Senator, Patrick Testin, who represents the Senate District 24. “There are some proposals that deal with mental health we would support, but there are some areas in the budget we will be far apart on, like the Medicaid expansion proposal.”

Some Republicans, like Senator Testin, say increasing funding would be unnecessary spending and the money could be better spent elsewhere to advance the state.

"We have roughly a $230 million surplus in our Medicaid budget; and with reimbursements rates as low as they are, there's an opportunity to take some of that Medicaid surplus and to targeted rate reimbursement increases which would provide better access to care to the underserved areas"

State lawmakers are expected to pass a budget in the next few months.