By Elise Viebeck - 06/16/14 03:51 PM EDT
Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is running for governor of Louisiana, expressed support Monday for ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion under certain circumstances.
Vitter, an outspoken critic of the healthcare law, reportedly said he would support extending free healthcare to low-income adults as long as it didn't draw resources away from other priorities.
“I think first and foremost we need to reform and improve Medicaid, and we need to do everything necessary to do that, not just focus on whether we expand or don't expand a fundamentally broken system," Vitter said.
"Could more federal resources help to do that? They could if it's done right and if it's done in a constructive way."
His remarks were reported by the Baton Rouge Business Report.
Vitter's stance puts him at odds with more conservative Republicans, including outgoing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is running to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
A staffer for Vitter emphasized that his boss did not back the expansion outright.
"The only way Senator Vitter would ever consider any expansion is if it fundamentally reformed the program, did not continue to drain state dollars away from higher ed, and did not provide additional disincentives for able-bodied folks to work, all factors he laid out clearly," spokesman Luke Bolar wrote in an email.
While the federal government is required by law to cover nearly all of the cost of the expansion, conservatives say the proposition is too risky for state budgets in the long term.
Vitter is known on Capitol Hill for his campaign to end employer subsidies for lawmakers and staff on the exchanges.
This story was updated at 5:17 p.m.