Sen. Ron Johnson speaks during a hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on Jan 24, 2013 in Washington, DC.
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GOP senator: Deal with ‘reality’ of Obamacare

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was once a major proponent of defunding President Obama’s health care law. Now, he’s uttering a slightly different tune: “transition.”

The Republican senator once accused Obama and Senate Democrats of committing “massive fraud” with the way they “fully vetted, coldly calculated and carefully crafted” to sell the Affordable Care Act. But on Thursday’s The Daily Rundown, Johnson admitted that that he’s starting to look at health care through the parameters of the law.

“You have to deal with the reality of the situation,” he said. “This isn’t just a piece of paper right now that you can repeal and it just goes away… Obamacare exists. What are we going to do with it, and how are we going to limit its damage?” He added that Republicans’ responsibility should be “to do whatever we can to try and repair the real harm that’s been done to people.”

Earlier this week Johnson told National Review, “We’ve got to start talking about transitioning… Yeah, you can get rid of the law, but what do you do with what’s already there?….Am I opposed to state-based exchanges? No…it may be that they can be usable.”

But on Thursday’s show, he clarified his statement: “The concept, you know, I don’t necessarily have a problem with, but the Obamacare state exchanges I’m utterly opposed to.” Instead, he’d like to see exchanges that “allow people to purchase insurance across state lines” and “equalize the tax treatments.”

Johnson also said he was “totally” supportive of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to not institute a federal exchange and accept Medicaid expansion.

Despite his own change of heart, Johnson said that Republicans shouldn’t give up their push to repeal the law.

“We should repeal the law,” said the Wisconsin senator. “Anyone who has been advantaged by this [law] has been done on the backs of our children and grandchildren because we can’t afford this.”

Ron Johnson and Wisconsin

GOP senator: Deal with 'reality' of Obamacare