Election Results a Mixed Bag for State Political Parties

Health care remains top issue on the minds of voters

November 13, 2018

Wisconsin Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers defeated incumbent Governor Scott Walker in a tight statewide election last Tuesday, winning by a margin of roughly 31,000 votes with nearly 2.7 million votes cast—the largest mid-term election turnout since at least 1948. While the Governor’s wing of the state capitol has turned from red to blue, legislative Republicans gained a seat in the state Senate and maintain a strong majority in the state Assembly moving into the next legislative session.

Health care issues were among the most heavily debated in the most recent election. These issues included pre-existing condition insurance coverage, the debate to expand Medicaid eligibility up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and pulling Wisconsin from a Texas lawsuit that would strike down significant components of the Affordable Care Act.

One exit poll conducted by Edison Research, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, showed that half of Wisconsin voters said health care was the most important issue facing the country.

In Wisconsin, the debate for expanding Medicaid revolves around bringing additional federal revenues into the state. Governor-elect Evers said during a debate with Governor Walker that he would take federal Medicaid money and “plow it into the system and make health care more affordable.” 

With an Evers’ initiated state budget, the Legislature is almost certain to receive a budget bill that includes some version of Affordable Care Act (ACA)-prescribed Medicaid expansion to 138% FPL. As the Wisconsin State Journal reported on the topic over the weekend, “Eric Borgerding, CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, a powerful bipartisan lobby…[said] ‘that’s a lot of money that would have to be unwound from the budget.’”

While ACA-prescribed Medicaid expansion may be a priority for Governor-elect Evers, the proposal has already faced pushback from legislative Republicans who are concerned about expanding Medicaid to a larger population. Regardless, the issue will most likely come down to a budget battle between the executive and legislative branches of state government.  

This story originally appeared in the November 13, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter