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Expanding Medicaid Would Lead to a Healthier, Happier Wisconsin

Posted by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator Dist 32 (B)
Jennifer Shilling, State Senator Dist 32 (B)
Jennifer Shilling lives in La Crosse with her husband and two children. She curr
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on Tuesday, 10 March 2020 in Wisconsin

medicaidAn overwhelming 70% of Wisconsinites support accepting the federal funds for Medicaid expansion. It’s time to move forward.


LA CROSSE, WI - With the 2020 presidential election just around the corner, the topic of health care is more hotly-contested than ever. While each candidate has their own opinions on how it should be reformed, there’s one theme that weaves through each debate: our system is broken, and we need to fix it.

While we can’t control what happens at the federal level, there is something we can do right here, at home, in Wisconsin – expand Medicaid.

For eight years, the Walker administration refused to accept federal Medicaid dollars that would extend coverage to tens of thousands of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Putting politics before the needs of our people, he chose to appeal to the far-right and reject the Affordable Care Act. And in the past year, legislative Republicans have kept up with Walker’s ideological agenda, and removed Medicaid Expansion from Governor Evers’ state budget proposal on the first day of deliberation.

Bottom line, these political games are just irresponsible, and they’re costing taxpayers money. In fact, in this budget cycle alone, accepting the Medicaid funding would’ve saved $324.5 million in state taxpayer money, and brought in over $1.6 billion in additional federal dollars for health care services.

jennifer-shillingWhat’s worse is Wisconsinites are already paying for the expansion, without reaping the benefits. According to the Department of Revenue, without expansion, Wisconsin taxpayers will pay more than $2 billion over the next two years in federal income taxes for other states like Illinois and New Jersey to expand their Medicaid programs.

Why wouldn’t we work to keep those dollars in Wisconsin?

With that money, we could increase affordable and accessible health insurance to 80,000 residents. We could increase provider reimbursement, tackle workforce shortages and provide coverage for additional services and benefits. We could even increase state funding for other priorities, like education and local government. And, perhaps most importantly, we could do the work the people of Wisconsin are asking us to do.

An overwhelming 70% of Wisconsinites support accepting the federal funds for Medicaid expansion – and it’s not too late. Republicans should do their jobs and act on stand-alone legislation introduced by Democrats that would allow us to join the 37 other states that have expanded their programs.

Every person in Wisconsin deserves access to affordable healthcare. Unfortunately, on this issue, Republicans are still stuck in the past. It’s time to move forward and build healthier, happier communities, together.

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Jennifer Shilling lives in La Crosse with her husband and two children. She currently represents the 32nd State Senate District which includes La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford, and part of Monroe Counties.

She is serving her first full term as the State Senator for the 32nd Senate District after being elected in a 2011 special election. She previously served as the State Representative for the 95th Assembly District and worked as a legislative aide to State Representative Mark Meyer and Congressman Ron Kind. She is a proud graduate of UW-La Crosse and a former La Crosse County Supervisor.

Jennifer was elected by her colleagues as the Senate Democratic Leader. She has served as a ranking member on the Joint Committee on Finance,which is primarily responsible for crafting the state's biennial budget and reviewing state appropriations and revenues. She has also served on the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Public Works, and Telecommunications and the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges.

Locally, Jennifer serves as a member of the UW-La Crosse Alumni Association Board of Directors (past President), the UW-La Crosse Chancellor’s Community Council, the La Crosse Area Habitat for Humanity Women Build (Honorary Chairwoman), the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, the La Crosse County Local Emergency Planning Committee, the La Crosse County League of Women Voters, the La Crosse County Democratic Party, the Vernon Women’s Alliance, and the Viroqua Chamber Main Street.

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