Sen. Ron Johnson said Tuesday he's not yet opposing his fellow Republicans' Obamacare replace and repeal bill, but he's "not a yes, yet," either.
"We need to fix these collapsing markets that are Obamacare," the Wisconsin Republican told Fox News "America's Newsroom" co-host Bill Hemmer. "We've got to drive premiums down. I want time to allow my constituents in Wisconsin a chance to review it and provide their input and feedback."
Johnson said he's not asking for the discussions to go on for months, but "let's take a couple of weeks and be thoughtful. Give me a chance to make the case to improve it."
He did say he'll vote no this week on a measure to move the bill forward, as he believes it's too early to make that decision.
"This is such an alternative universe," said Johnson. "We've gotten through the process until we get the CBO score, at the end of the process. We need better information at the start of the process."
Republican Sens. Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Dean Heller have all said they will not vote for the bill, while two others, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have voiced their concerns on the measure.
Johnson on Tuesday said he was trying to make his case in the Senate on the bill, but was largely ignored.
"We are ignoring the fact that Obamacare artificially drove up premiums double and triple," said Johnson. "There is a reason for that. We refuse to do the cause analysis and refuse to be honest and courageous enough. All the things that sound nice have negative consequences called doubling and tripling the premiums. So many things that happen."
But as the bill stands today, Johnson said he'll oppose a motion to proceed with it as "it's too early."
"That's different from saying I oppose," said Johnson. "In the end no matter what I'm forced to vote for as imperfect as I know it will be, my evaluation will be — does it leave us off better tomorrow than we are today? That's a low bar but we have to look at those premiums."
Meanwhile, Johnson said costs for healthcare could go down if there is price competition through a free market, giving the example of laser surgery for eyes.
"Laser surgery has not been covered by insurance," said Johnson. "When customers are paying for it, they actually provided the price, so the cost of laser surgery declined and the quality improved. That's what happens throughout the rest of the free market system. Because only 10 cents of every dollar is paid by the patient, people don't care, they don't know and care what things really cost because a third party is paying for them. We need to introduce free market driven price competition that would force providers to provide price transparency and restrain the costs in healthcare and that ought to be our overall goal."
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