Emanuel — brother of former White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — said it was likely the CBO was actually underestimating the potential savings under the plan. He noted that premiums in Massachusetts — where a similar plan was instituted under then-Gov. Mitt Romney — were down 40 percent while health outcomes were better.
"One simple question: Senator, what's you alternative?" Emanuel asked Johnson over his objection to the legislation.
But the Republican senator said the president's plan removed "free market discipline" from healthcare.
"Do you want government control over the system? Or do you really want the private sector, you know, bringing the free market back into this — that's been the problem, quite honestly," Johnson said. "As we separate the consumer and the product from the payment and the product, we've taken the free market discipline out of healthcare."
The Supreme Court voted Friday on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform legislation's individual mandate after three days of oral arguments before the higher court earlier in the week, although it is not expected to announce its findings until later this summer.