PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey addressed the next phase of the health care debate during an interview with Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, saying
that the bill passed by the House of Representatives should be a guide for the Senate to move forward, but warned there is a lot of work to do before a finished product is reached.
“I think we need to be informed by what passed the House, in part, because it was able to pass the House. We’ve made promises to the American people, we’re not going to continue government run health care. We’re going to put people back in charge of their own health care and we have to honor that commitment. We’re discovering just how difficult this is. Part of the problem is we’ve allowed this expectation to take hold that we’re going to solve the entire problem with one bill. That’s was never going to happen and it’s still not going to happen. What we are going to do with the first bill, if all goes well, is we’ll begin the process. We’ll repeal the vast majority of Obamacare. We’ll begin to make some reforms so that competitive markets that serve people rather than government dictating terms, that gets in place. We need to stabilize the insurance markets because Obamacare is collapsing…So there’s a lot we’ve got to do. It’s not going to happen in one fell swoop.”
He stated he approved of the amendment leaving more responsibility with individual states that enabled the bill to get through the House, but wants to see the Senate go even further regarding what Governor’s and state legislatures control.
“Granting states more flexibility is a central part of this. The House took some steps in that direction, but, I think, it didn’t go far enough. For instance, the House contemplates the head of the Health and Human Services, the administration, granting waivers pretty liberally if states request them but it’s not required. I worry that, while Tom Price, the current Secretary of Health and Human Services, I know for sure that he wants to grant waivers…It’s not enough for me to know that Tom Price will do a good job granting waivers if the next administration happens to be a liberal Democrat who thinks waivers are a terrible idea. We need to codify this. We need to put in law that states have greater freedom, greater flexibility. State governments are more accountable to the people than the federal government because it’s closer to the people. It’s an important part of where we need to move.”
Toomey acknowledged that Republicans must act quickly on what they’ve promised over the last few campaign cycles or they will feel the wrath of voters next year.
“I think the window is closer to a year, rather than a year and a half, as a practical matter, just given the politics of the mid-term elections…The source of the pressure is a couple of things. One is the continuing collapse of Obamacare. 40 percent of Pennsylvanians now have a grand total of one choice on the individual markets. What kind of competition is that? Your choice is one company, it’s one product, that’s a huge problem. Premiums are continuing to go through the roof. We’ve got to reverse that. There’s an urgency right there. Then there’s the political reality. We’ve made a commitment to the American people, we’ve made a promise. If we don’t carry through on that promise, then I think that significantly increases the chances that the election next year may not go so well.”