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Senator Pat Toomey, R-PA, On State of The Health Care Bill Negotiations


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Hugh Hewitt

June 30 2017






HH: Well, where is the divide, Senator, because to me, the house is on fire.

PT: Yeah.

HH: I read every day health care disaster, I get callers like Terry in Tennessee. I actually talk to people about this. And the Senate, we’ve asked for years for the House, the Senate and the presidency to be in Republican hands. It’s down to your 52 people to send a bill back to the House and then to the President. It’s on your guys.

PT: You’re absolutely right. You’re absolutely right. And that’s why we’ve been meeting several times a day every single day to try to get there. I’ll tell you one of the areas that is, that has proven to be extremely contentious, and this is written about in the Washington Post article you alluded to. But it is how we treat Medicaid. And we have to deal with it. It is part of Obamacare. You know Medicaid is the government-run health care system for very low income Americans. And Obamacare created a new category of eligibility, a category of Americans who were never eligible before. And that is working-age able-bodied adults with no dependents. So for the first time, this category of people, if their income is below 138% of the poverty line, they can get Medicaid. Well, you know, we’re going to continue to allow these people to be eligible. That’s a big concession to Obamacare conservatives we’re making. This category of eligibility will remain in perpetuity under the bill. But what’s controversial is the vast majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate believe that the federal contribution towards covering this category of folks should go from the 90% that Obamacare has established down to the ordinary share, which on average is 57% across the country, with the states picking up the balance. So it’s a matter of restoring, or placing on this category of beneficiaries, it doesn’t affect the beneficiaries. It’s a relationship between the state and the federal government. Should the states bear their fair share of this cost? I would argue because of the fiscal train wreck of the federal budget, we need to also create an incentive for states to actually care about the cost and the administration of this program. We’ve got to do this. This is one of the most controversial features. Governors are screaming. Governors are, of course, I’m shocked, governors want free money from someone else.




PT: Well, it could be that there are a number of pieces going over to CBO. I can’t say that there’s a complete agreement that gets 50 votes on any one configuration, so we’re probably going to send several configurations over so that we still have a few pieces to move, and some dials to turn, but we’ll have the information back from CBO about what it all costs, and that will help us make a better informed decision.

HH: And should the August recess be cancelled if you guys aren’t done, yet?

PT: If we can’t, look, we have to stay until it’s done.




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