- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 15, 2019

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on Wisconsin Legislature (all times local):

3 p.m.

A bill to guarantee that people with pre-existing health conditions can get insurance is moving quickly in the Wisconsin Assembly.

The measure was the first bill introduced this session and the Assembly’s Health Committee held a public hearing on it Tuesday. The panel plans to vote on advancing the measure on Thursday. That sets it up for a vote in the full Assembly as soon as next week.

But it faces a tougher road in the Senate.

It’s not clear whether there’s enough Republican support to pass the measure there. A similar bill died in the Senate last session after it passed the Assembly.

Democrats oppose the measure because they say it won’t provide the same level of protection as is under current federal law.

Gov. Tony Evers says he will only sign a bill that offers the same or better protection as is available under the federal law.


1:55 p.m.

A bipartisan bill designed to guarantee people with pre-existing health conditions can get insurance if the federal Affordable Care Act is repealed has been heard by a Wisconsin legislative committee.

The Republican-authored proposal has more than 60 co-sponsors but faces significant hurdles to becoming law.

Gov. Tony Evers has not said he will sign it into law. And Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doesn’t know if there are enough votes to pass it. A similar measure died in the Senate last session.

Evers says he will only sign a bill that has the same or more protections that are available under federal law. The state bill does not go as far as federal law because only the federal government can regulate self-funded plans.

But Republican Rep. Mike Rohrkaste says those employers would never go back to insurance plans that don’t cover people with pre-existing conditions because it would be difficult to recruit workers.


10:50 a.m.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says he told Republican lawmakers he will push for expanding Medicaid, even though Republicans tell him that is a “nonstarter.”

Evers spoke to reporters Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers in the Capitol. The rare meeting brought together Senate and Assembly Republicans a week after Evers was inaugurated.

Evers says that he thinks he will prevail on accepting the federal Medicaid expansion because of what it means to health care providers across the state. Accepting the money would save the state about $180 million a year.

But Republicans oppose it because they don’t want the state to expand the number of people on Medicaid. Accepting the expansion would add about 75,000 people to the program.

Evers says Republicans also expressed their confidence in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Evers says they also discussed the Foxconn Technology Group project.


10:20 a.m.

Wisconsin legislative Democrats say their priorities for the next two years will provide the state with a “fresh start” by undoing Republican policies that Democrats say have undermined democracy.

Democrats have little chance of passing what they want, given that Republicans are in the majority in both the Senate and Assembly. But Democrats have an ally with newly elected Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Democratic legislative priorities include having nonpartisan redistricting reform, ending unlimited campaign donations, changing the state constitution to enhance the state’s open meetings and open records law as it pertains to the Legislature and barring any lame-duck sessions between an election and the start of a new legislative session.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz says Democrats are taking the case to the voters to advocate for more sensible policies, even though Republicans oppose much of what they want.


8:48 a.m.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is scheduled to meet behind closed doors with Republican lawmakers as both sides say they want to work together on major issues facing Wisconsin.

The unusual meeting Tuesday in the Capitol comes after Assembly Republicans sent Evers a letter detailing areas where they believe they can work together. That list includes road funding, income tax cuts and pre-existing condition insurance guarantees.

The public gets its chance Tuesday to weigh in on the latest Republican-authored bill to guarantee insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The measure has bipartisan support, but it’s unclear whether it has enough votes to pass the Senate.

Also Tuesday, Assembly Democrats plan to outline their priorities for the legislative session.

Republicans hold majorities in both the Senate and Assembly.

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