Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Monday that Senate Republican leadership was trying to “jam this thing through,” referring to the bill to repeal Obamacare and impose deep cuts to Medicaid.
Johnson, who does not think the bill is conservative enough, reiterated his opposition to Republican leadership’s plan to vote on it this week in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, saying: “You don’t have to do it this week. I just completely disagree with you on that.”
Still, Johnson told Hewitt: “When I’m forced to vote a bill, I’ll take a look at that bill, and I’ll have to make the determination: Does this put us in a better place tomorrow than we are today? And that will be my guiding principle.”
“I have not said I’m ‘no.’ I’m just not ‘yes’ yet,” he said.
“I don’t know about a motion to proceed” with a vote, he hedged later. “It depends on what information I get before that vote’s taken, Hugh. Right now I’ve got no information. I have very limited information. This does not make an accountant very happy.”
During the discussion, Johnson was harshly critical of Republican leadership’s handling of the legislative process.
“What has transpired in the Senate so far, and I’d say in the House, are the design of bills void of information,” he said at one point, adding later: “I’ve been behind the scenes. I’ve listened to people argue the points completely absent of any information.”
He also criticized the bill’s treatment of premium costs, which would likely get worse than they are currently under Obamacare.
“It is a gaping admission that we’re not looking at the premiums,” Johnson said. “And yes, we know what causes premiums to increase. Obviously, the bill-writers in the House and Senate aren’t acknowledging it. They don’t have the courage to address the fact that guaranteed issue collapses markets.”
“Guaranteed issue” prevents insurers from refusing coverage based on health status. Obamacare used a mandate to compel most people to purchase insurance, to avoid insurance companies taking on too many high-cost customers as a result of guaranteed issue without also taking on healthier people. Senate Republicans’ bill drops that mandate.
However, a revised version of Senate Republicans’ bill published after Johnson’s interview with Hewitt Monday adds a continuous coverage requirement in order to incentivize individuals to stay insured: individuals with a break in coverage longer than two months in the previous year, under the revised bill, would face a six-month waiting period when they attempt to purchase insurance again.
Listen to Johnson’s full interview with Hewitt here.
This post has been updated.
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