Sen. Toomey helps chart course for Senate version of AHCA

Sen. Toomey helps chart course for...

Health care reform is now in the hands of the U.S. Senate and Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey will have a lot to say about how it turns out.

Toomey is part of a working group that will take the American Health Care Act passed by the House and come up with a Senate version.

Toomey said health care is a top priority.

Even though the committee of senators is all Republican, he said he hopes down the road this will be a bi-partisan effort.

"We are going to make sure this is all fiscally responsible so a lot of moving parts. But I am cautiously optimistic that we will get there," said Toomey.

Toomey says the group is meeting several times a week in whole and in part to work on the bill.

He said the group's focus is finding ways to relieve regulations put in place by the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," bring health care costs down, and tackle issues like  Medicaid expansion.

"We have got to deal with this Medicaid expansion which is complicated because some states chose to pursue the expansion, other states chose not to," said Toomey.

Toomey said the group is looking at a variety of ways to deal with the challenge of preexisting conditions and that the senators understand health care needs to be affordable and accessible to people no matter what health status they have.

Toomey said he is not sure how the Senate bill will be different from the House version, but unlike its predecessor, he is hoping down the road, it will get some democratic support.

"This is really a first big step in repealing Obamacare and moving to transitioning to another model for health care. It's a first big step of several and at some point along the way as the facts change on the ground I would certainly hope that some of our democratic colleagues would join us," said Toomey

Toomey says there is no timeline for completion on the bill,  but he says he is hopeful the working group will have a bill formulated this summer.

69 News reached out to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey to get his take on the group's work. A staffer said Casey thinks the group should be bi-partisan.

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