GOP senator: Let's work with Dems to 'fix' ObamaCare

GOP senator: Let's work with Dems to 'fix' ObamaCare

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: Gun control debate 'hasn't changed much at all' back home GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation FBI Agents Association calls on Congress to make 'domestic terrorism' a federal crime MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday that he thinks Republicans should work with Democrats to “fix” ObamaCare.

The remarks strike a more pragmatic and cautious tone on ObamaCare than the usual Republican rhetoric of “repeal and replace.”

“Let’s start working with Democrats. Let’s transition to a system that will actually work, that, you know, Democrats are talking about. They want to fix it. Well, let’s fix it for the benefit of the American public,” Johnson said on CNBC.

Johnson even specifically rejected the Republican mantra of “repeal and replace,” which has been embraced by President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE and congressional leaders.

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“From my standpoint, I’ve been talking about repairing the damage and then transitioning to a system that actually works,” Johnson said. “That takes some time. It’s way more complex than simply repeal and replace. That’s a fun little buzzword, but it’s just not accurate.”

Johnson’s comments come as a range of other Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about their party’s ObamaCare strategy. Many lawmakers are anxious about moving forward with repeal without having a replacement plan ready.  

Trump has helped shift the debate on that front somewhat by calling for simultaneous repeal and replacement, though it is unclear if putting forward a detailed replacement is feasible without months of work.

Johnson said he thought more members of his party were coming around to his line of thinking.

“I think more and more people are, as they’re starting to take a look at the daunting task of how do you start repairing the damage of ObamaCare, realizing it’s not particularly easy,” he said.

Johnson did not provide specifics about what his ideal system would look like. However, he did focus on the law’s insurance market reforms, meaning items like the ban on rejecting people for having pre-existing conditions and an end to lifetime caps on coverage.

Johnson said he thought the reforms were driving up the cost of coverage and were the “real disaster of ObamaCare,” but added that Democratic help is needed for changes there because Senate rules do not allow those reforms to be changed unless there are 60 votes in the Senate.

The Wisconsin senator comes from a swing state, though he was just reelected last year. He indicated that Republicans need to take care given that ObamaCare is already in place.  

“Repeal and replace was appropriate prior to ObamaCare’s implementation,” he said.

“I mean, then you could have repealed it, you could have put something in place, nobody would have been harmed,” he added. “You didn’t have, already, the tentacles of ObamaCare.”