Gov. Evers makes final pitch for BadgerCare expansion ahead of special session Tuesday

NOW: Gov. Evers makes final pitch for BadgerCare expansion ahead of special session Tuesday

REEDSBURG, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Governor Tony Evers made a final pitch to lawmakers to support his plan to expand BadgerCare and invest in more than 50 projects across the state ahead of his special session Tuesday. 

Gov. Evers called on the Legislature to meet in special session to consider a bill to use a portion of the $1.6 billion in federal aid to expand the BadgerCare program and invest in projects across the state using the influx of cash. 

“We’re not giving up,” Evers said during a visit to Reedsburg. “Obviously, passing up a billion dollars is something the people of Wisconsin won’t stand for.”

Republican lawmakers have routinely ignored the governor’s special sessions and for years rejected the idea of expanding Medicaid, which would give an additional 90,000 Wisconsinites health coverage. 

On Monday, Evers said he’s “hopeful” and “optimistic” despite GOP opposition during a visit to an elementary school in Reedsburg, a district who would benefit from additional federal funding.

“Even if they do gavel in and gavel out, we will continue to advocate for this,” Evers said. 

Republican lawmakers, Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) and Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), who represent the Reedsburg area, called Evers' event a political stunt. 

“It is extremely disappointing to learn that the Governor was in our district with 59 minutes of notice," the Republicans said in a joint statement. “This political tactic makes it clear that the Governor has no interest in working with us. The entire call to Special Session is nothing more than a political game.”

Evers had hoped to convince Republicans to support his plan by committing to spend a portion of the $1.6 billion in federal funds on more than 50 projects, including $100 million towards replacing lead pipes, $100 million for fixing roads and bridges and $200 to expand broadband.

Earlier in the day, members of the medical community also urged Republicans to reconsider their opposition to BadgerCare expansion. 

“This makes a lot of sense, it is not political, it is health,” said Dr. Madelaine Tully, a family physician in Milwaukee County. 

A neurologist from Brookfield, Dr. Ann Helms, also stressed how she believes Medicaid expansion could help address racial disparities in health care. 

“Our neighbors, who have been previously shut out of critical doctor appointments and screenings, can finally get the care they need to thrive,” said Helms. 

The special session is scheduled for Tuesday, but GOP leaders have indicated they will reject Evers’ plan. Lawmakers can either gavel in and out or schedule it for another day. 

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