Sen. Johnson: Republicans 'don't have total agreement' on Obamacare

Trump describes Obamacare plan
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  • Johnson said Republicans "don't have total agreement" on a plan to replace Obamacare
  • The Wisconsin Republican said he expects the health law to be reformed "step by step"

Washington (CNN)Sen. Ron Johnson said Thursday he "will freely admit that Republicans in the House and Senate don't have total agreement" on an Obamacare replacement plan despite a late-night budget move to begin repealing the law.

But the Wisconsin Republican, speaking on CNN's "New Day," expressed confidence that congressional Republicans could coalesce around a plan despite multiple competing proposals. He also suggested that the strategy to replace Obamacare would involve a series of piecemeal reforms as opposed to a complete overhaul.
"I don't think you're going to see one massive plan like Obamacare. You're going to see a step-by-step approach targeting the individual damage of the individual reforms, and we'll put in replacements for each individual one of those problems," Johnson said. "Anyway, that would be my approach. Other people have different ideas."
The Wisconsin senator explained that "the elements are pretty common" across the competing Obamacare replacement proposals.
"Free market reforms, patient-centered, turning more and more of the decisions of insurance back to individuals and back to the states in terms of regulatory environment. All the essential health benefits. I mean, all these marked reforms that have caused premiums to double and triple those are things that need to be replaced with things that work, free market based reforms," Johnson said.
Johnson's comments came the morning after an exhaustive legislation session that ended early Thursday morning, with the Senate GOP advancing a budget resolution on party lines -- 51 to 48 -- that would initiate the long process of repealing Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act.
The House is expected take a swift vote on the resolution, possibly as early as Friday, which would trigger congressional committees to begin crafting a second bill that would roll back major parts of Obamacare. Though it will be weeks before Congress votes on that bill, Thursday still marked a victory for the Republican Party as it moves toward overhauling the country's health care system.
Still, the largely symbolic exercise in the Senate this week masks the fact that congressional Republicans still haven't made significant progress on drawing up an Obamacare replacement plan.
And despite Johnson's suggestion that the health law will be repealed and reformed step-by-step over an extended time frame, President-elect Donald Trump has turned up the pressure on the GOP, saying at a news conference Wednesday that repeal and replace will happen "essentially simultaneously."