MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- Governor Scott Walker called the Legislature into special session this week to deal with the gap many Wisconsinites will face due to the rollout problems of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Republicans control the Assembly and the Senate, but minority Democrats are expected to make some noise Wednesday because they don’t agree with the direction Republicans are going. One of them is 71st District Representative Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point, who says her party will again push for the state to accept additional federal Medicaid funds for Badgercare programs. “Democrats will be pushing for the Medicaid expansion. We Democrats are united in our support for expanding access to Affordable Health Care for the citizens of Wisconsin, whereas Governor Walker’s plan costs more but actually covers fewer Wisconsinites, so we’re paying more for less.”
Shankland says the Governor is refusing the federal funds based solely on ideology, but says the state accepts federal dollars for several other programs and this should be no different. “We take federal money for roads. We take federal money for schools. Why should we not take the Medicaid money when my bill, the DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) bill* takes federal dollars and leverages them with a state match. We can do the same thing for health care. It will empower people, they will be more productive citizens, they’ll have actual access to affordable health care, and we save 120-million dollars of taxpayer money, I mean, it’s a no-brainer to me.”
Democrats are also very upset with the last redistricting process, which made changes to Congressional and Legislative districts they believe favor Republicans. Shankland says bills proposing a non-partisan redistricting process are buried in committee, so they want to take it to referendum. “Unfortunately, Republicans have refused to give either bill a hearing, so in response, the Democrats who introduced this bill are now pushing for an advisory referendum. We’re taking it to the people so that the people can decide.”
Shankland realizes Democrats are in the minority in both houses, and it will be challenging to win the issues, but she’s hoping public pressure will help sway some votes their way.
* Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Bill is Senate Bill 274, scheduled to be signed into law by Governor Scott Walker Friday, 12/6/13 in La Crosse. The bill will increase access to workforce development services for people with disabilities by investing four million state dollars and receiving fifteen million federal dollars for resources to people with disabilities looking for work, career guidance, job placement assistance, rehabilitation technology, job training, transportation, and more.
(The interview with Katrina Shankland can be heard on our website, here.)