Ron Johnson

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, should continue to insist on greater details and time to digest any health care overhaul.

GREGORY SHAVER, RACINE JOURNAL TIMES

First the U.S. House of Representatives approved an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act without waiting for a fresh analysis of its potential impacts by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Now the U.S. Senate is secretly drafting its own sweeping replacement of former President Barack Obama's health care law, with few details reaching the public.

Even U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said this week he's in the dark. Yet his Senate GOP leader is talking about voting before July 4.

"This is incredibly complex, and from my standpoint I need a whole lot more information before I agree to vote 'yes' on a bill," Johnson said.

The public deserves details and plenty of time for input, too.

In fact, the Republican leaders working to advance their Obamacare replacement are making many of the same mistakes the Democrats did when they approved the Affordable Care Act in the first place. They're trying to get it done without fully understanding its effects. They're failing to build bipartisan support. And they're operating largely behind closed doors.

That's not a recipe for a health care system that operates well for the American people.

Johnson shouldn't roll over if his Senate leaders unveil their alternative to the ACA soon with demands for a quick vote. Instead, he should continue to insist on time to digest it, with ample opportunity to improve the package.

This is literally a life-and-death issue for some people in Wisconsin and across the nation. Big changes to the ACA could dramatically alter their health insurance and the cost and quality of care.

Obamacare definitely needs some fixing. The cost of insurance in some of the ACA marketplaces has jumped, with fewer insurance companies offering plans.

Johnson said he's urged his leaders not to rush an overhaul. He'd like to see a short-term fix to stabilize the ACA's individual health coverage markets, followed by a broader measure in the long run.

That's a responsible and much more open approach than the Senate appears to be pursuing.

President Donald Trump originally applauded House Speaker Paul Ryan and his House GOP colleagues for passage for their Obamacare replacement bill in May. Ryan, R-Janesville, pushed the legislation to a quick vote without a fresh report on its effects from the professional CBO. Ryan had complained years ago about Democrats essentially doing the same thing.

Now that Trump is learning more about what the House bill would do, the president is calling the House package "mean." The bill would remove the Obamacare mandate to buy health coverage, replace the law's insurance subsidies with tax credits, cut Medicaid and reverse the law's taxes on the wealthy.

The CBO now estimates 23 million fewer Americans would have health coverage by 2026.

Congress needs to slow down and get this right.

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