Sen. Ron Johnson has been supportive of overhauling Medicaid
He said recent comments attributed to Mitch McConnell have changed his mind
Sen. Ron Johnson – who opposed the first version of the GOP health care bill – told reporters last week that he would at the very least vote “yes” on whether to debate the GOP’s newest version of the bill on the floor.
Now, however, it appears the Wisconsin Republican has had a change of heart.
“Last week I was strongly urging colleagues to vote motion to proceed,” Johnson told reporters on Capitol Hill Monday evening. “I’m not doing that right now.”
Johnson said he became concerned about supporting the leadership’s health care bill after reading a report in the Washington Post that cited an anonymous lobbyist saying that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was telling moderate Republicans that steep cuts to Medicaid would never go into effect. Under the GOP health care bill, the growth rate in Medicaid would change from medical inflation to standard inflation beginning after 2025. The standard inflation rate is less generous than the medical inflation one.
McConnell responded to Johnson’s comments Monday night.
“I prefer to speak for myself, and my view is that the Medicaid per capita cap with a responsible growth rate that is sustainable for taxpayers is the most important long-term reform in the bill. That is why it has been in each draft we have released,” McConnell said in a statement.
According to the Post’s source, McConnell had told senators that probably wouldn’t ever happen in an attempt to win their support.
“He’s trying to sell the pragmatists like (Sen. Rob) Portman, like (Shelley Moore) Capito on ‘the CPI-U will never happen,’” the GOP lobbyist told the Post.
Johnson, who has been supportive of overhauling Medicaid, said that he personally confirmed McConnell had made the assurances to some of his colleagues and that he was deeply troubled by the report.
“You know I was strongly in favor of doing that last week before I read the comments by Sen. McConnell,” Johnson said. “I’ve confirmed those from senators that those comments were made too so I find those comments very troubling, and I think that really does put in jeopardy the motion to proceed vote.”
He added later that the comments were “a real breach of trust.”
Johnson said that he plans to tell McConnell he has concerns during the GOP lunch Tuesday. McConnell’s health care bill was already hanging on by a thread and after Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona had to have surgery for a blood clot, leadership had to delay the vote. McConnell can only afford to have two Republican senators vote against the motion to proceed. One more and the legislation cannot be advanced.