Sen. Johnson On Repeal Bill: Nothing ‘Nefarious’ About States Getting Waivers

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
Font Size:

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson defended sparsely populated states receiving waivers under the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

According to Politico, the Senate Obamacare repeal bill could shield Alaska and four other states from major Medicaid cuts for nine years, and one of those states is Alaska home of Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who helped kill the last Obamacare repeal bill in July.

With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled the repeal bill for a floor vote next week and can only lose two of his own members or the bill will fail. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain already announced his opposition to the repeal legislation Friday.

As a result of their low populations, states like Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana could temporarily exempt themselves from the legislation’s fixed payment system.

But the ability to opt out would cease by 2026.

“There’s nothing unique about states having unique situations you couldn’t have Medicaid states operate under different waivers. It’s an incredibly complex system,” Johnson told this reporter on SiriusXM Patriot’s The David Webb Show.

Johnson went on to explain, “We’ve already got a grossly unfair distribution of health care dollars so in a process over 10 years of making that distribution more equitable, you have to take different state situations into consideration.”

He added, “There’s nothing unusual or nefarious about that kind of process. You’re just trying to deal with a very complex situation equitable distribution and that’s what’s going on here.”

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham agreed with Johnson, stressing the unique factors of low-population states like Alaska.

“Alaska is so unique,” Graham said. “It’s like 750,000 people and a third of the size of the United States. So, when they say they’re different, they really are.”

Follow Kerry on Twitter