GOP senator calls for ObamaCare alternative

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) offered the outlines of a Republican alternative to ObamaCare in the party’s weekly address.

“There are common-sense, bipartisan solutions to our health care problems that don’t require ObamaCare’s wholesale government take-over of the system,” Toomey said. “Now, in a nutshell, we can make insurance more accessible, more affordable, and more responsive to individuals and families. And put patients and their doctors in charge of health care decisions, instead of politicians and government bureaucrats.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Republicans have hammered the Affordable Care Act since long before it passed Congress in 2010, and they have escalated their attacks during the law’s troubled rollout this fall.

But the party has yet to rally around alternative legislation.

Toomey did not mention a specific proposal, but he voiced support for allowing people to transfer insurance from job to job and purchase it across state lines. Other ideas, which GOP lawmakers have long backed, included creating small business insurance pools, offering tax credits to purchase insurance on the individual market and medical malpractice reform.

Toomey also said Republicans “can help those with pre-existing conditions purchase affordable insurance.” A ban on insurers discriminating against people with pre-exiting conditions is one of the most popular elements of the Affordable Care Act, but many Republican proposals would stop short of a full mandate.

Toomey said in the address that his wife tried to purchase insurance through an ObamaCare exchange last week but was denied because of errors in the website, which the administration said has been fixed for “the vast majority of users.”

“When she called someone and asked for help, she was told the system just wasn’t working right now and it was best to try again later,” Toomey said.

“The fiasco my wife just faced with the health care website is being experienced by Americans across the country when they try to sign up for health insurance,” he added. “If this were just a matter of a slow-moving computer glitch, well then maybe that would be excusable. But it’s much more than that.”

The Pennsylvania Republican made no mention of the bipartisan budget agreement that passed the House overwhelmingly on Thursday. While it won support from a majority of House Republicans, it faces more opposition from Senate Republicans, who had little input in the legislation.

Instead, Toomey focused exclusively on problems with the healthcare law.

“The problem with ObamaCare isn’t just a glitch. It’s fundamental and it’s taking away our freedom,” Toomey said. “At the heart of the program is the idea that the government should decide your health coverage – what you require and how much you should pay. Never mind what you want, what you need, and what you can afford. “But working together, we can put an end to the dropped coverage and higher costs that the ObamaCare law is forcing on so many.”