Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Monday that dealing with the Medicaid expansion in a repeal of former President Barack Obama’s health care law must be a “negotiated agreement.”
Toomey also said the sickest people, such as those with serious pre-existing conditions, should be covered through a high-risk pool that is subsidized by the government to make it affordable.
Toomey’s comments came during a stop at the studio of Philadelphia’s KYW-TV, where he answered several questions submitted online. The event came a few days after demonstrators were arrested at his Philadelphia office building during a “Tuesdays with Toomey” protest pressing for a meeting with him. Toomey met in Philadelphia on Monday with some members of the group.
Toomey is heavily critical of Obama’s health care law and says a transition to a new health insurance system could take a couple years.
Asked about what Republicans plan to do with the current law, he said coverage in the individual market must be stabilized, but he did not say what he supports on that front.
Toomey also said little about how to deal with the Medicaid expansion adopted by Pennsylvania and 30 other states - many with Republican governors - that has led to coverage of 11 million additional low-income people.
“A second thing we’ve got to figure out is how do we deal with the expansion of Medicaid that some states participated in and other states did not,” Toomey said. “We’ve got to resolve that, and that’s going to be, you know, a negotiated agreement.”
A House Republican plan envisions ending it, forcing states to absorb the extra cost or dump the coverage. He also did not say whether he supports a House GOP plan to curb spending on other Medicaid enrollees by providing states fixed annual amounts per beneficiary, although he has sponsored legislation to that effect in recent years.
He gave more detail about how to deal with the sickest people on Medicaid, including those with serious pre-existing conditions. He said Obama’s solution to that problem relied on heavily regulating the insurance sector, and had failed.
“I want to solve that problem a different way,” Toomey said. “The way I want to solve it is have people with expensive, chronic, complex health problems, put them in a pool where insurers then compete to cover them. We provide the subsidy that is needed because it’s otherwise unaffordable and leave the ordinary marketplace to serve the vast majority of people who are not in that category.”
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