Senator Johnson isn't impressed with new health care bill

(AP) — Republican Sen. Ron Johnson says he plans to vote next week to start debate on the Senate's health care bill but he doesn't sound very impressed with the legislation itself.

Johnson had been among a group of GOP senators who said they couldn't vote for the bill. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a revised version Thursday aimed at winning conservatives' support by letting insurers sell low-cost, skimpy policies and adding billions to combat opioids and help consumers with insurance costs.

Johnson spokesman Ben Voekel told the Wisconsin State Journal that Johnson now plans to vote for a motion to start debate on the new version of the bill next week. Johnson said in a radio interview with WHBY on Friday morning that he's still disappointed that the bill doesn't do enough to lower premiums and he's not sure the motion will pass.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have said they won't vote for the motion. That means McConnell can't lose any more Republicans and hope to start debate. Every Senate Democrat opposes the measure, leaving McConnell with 50 votes and Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie.

Voekel declined to say if Johnson would vote for the bill itself. The newspaper reported transcripts from Johnson's office show that Johnson told reporters in Washington, D.C., that he plans to work with Sen. Ted Cruz to further improve the measure.

Voekel didn't immediately reply to an Associated Press email asking about Johnson's position on the bill.

The new bill contains provisions Cruz demanded that allow insurers to sell plans with minimal coverage as long as they also sell policies that meet strict coverage requirements laid out in President Barack Obama's 2010 health care overall. It also retains McConnell's plan to stop extra money more than two dozen states have used to expand Medicaid, adds $45 billion for states to fight opioid abuse and adds $70 billion to help insurers curb premium and consumer out-of-pocket costs.

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