Senate

GOP senator: McConnell Medicaid comments a ‘breach of trust’

Greg Nash

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is hedging over whether he’ll back the Senate’s new ObamaCare replacement bill.

Johnson initially indicated he could back the measure, but told a local newspaper that he’s now not so sure because of comments by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggesting some Medicaid cuts in the bill may not happen.

“I am concerned about Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s comments to apparently some of my Republican colleagues — ‘Don’t worry about some of the Medicaid reforms, those are scheduled so far in the future they’ll never take effect,'” Johnson told the Green Bay Press-Gazette in remarks that were first published on Friday.

The Senate GOP bill dramatically reforms and scales back Medicaid funding — a move that is drawing pushback from several key swing votes. But, according to The Washington Post, McConnell is privately telling undecided moderates that some of the deepest cuts to the program will never happen. 

{mosads}Johnson stressed he has to “confirm” McConnell’s comments, but if that is the Kentucky Republican’s pitch it would be a “pretty significant breach of trust” with many conservatives supporting the bill because it includes entitlement reform. 

“I think those comments are going to really put the motion to proceed in jeopardy, whether it’s on my part or others,” he said. 

Johnson initially said last week that he would vote to proceed to the bill. But according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, he is now undecided on the vote because of the Medicaid fight. 

A spokesman for Johnson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The Wisconsin Republican — who was largely written off by GOP leadership during last year’s election — was one of four conservative senators who came out against the initial draft of the repeal bill. He previously warned that he would vote against the motion to proceed if it occurred before the July recess. 

Medicaid has emerged as a key sticking point for Republicans as they try to get 50 GOP senators to support their repeal and replace bill. 

With GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Ky.) expected to vote against the motion to proceed, McConnell cannot afford to lose another Republican.

But several GOP senators, many from states that expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare, remain on the fence and huddled with McConnell in his office late last week. 

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) has also been a vocal critic of the bill, which could put pressure on Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — who is up for reelection next year — to vote against it. 

Federal Medicaid funding could drop by as much as 39 percent over the next two decades under Senate Republicans’ healthcare plan, according to a report presented at the National Governors Association meeting.

Tags Dean Heller Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Ron Johnson Susan Collins
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