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"Big Medicine" GOP Sen. on Health Care: "We Didn't Expect Trump"

by Thomas A. Hawk, published

US Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) says the reason Republicans have not been able to move forward on health care yet is because no one expected Donald Trump to win -- not him nor his Republican colleagues. So, 9 months later, Republican lawmakers still struggle with reaching consensus.

"I didn't expect Donald Trump to win. I think most of my colleagues didn't. So, we didn't expect to be in this situation, and given how difficult it is to get to a consensus, it was hard to force that until there was a need to," says Toomey.

The GOP senator envisions the ideal reform being a clean repeal that "stabilizes the market" and sets actual repeal several years down the road to give lawmakers time to work on reforms. In other words, there is no expedient path to health care reform.

But is there more to it than that? It's not unreasonable to assume people can forget all of the parties that have an invested interest in the fate of health care.

Toomey himself gets a ton of money from "Big Medicine." Look at these numbers from 2011-2016:

  • The pharmaceutical sector was the 11th largest donor to Toomey, giving him over half a million dollars.
  • The medical manufacturing and distribution sector gave him nearly the same amount, donating a total of $465,316. Toomey supports repealing Obamacare's medical device tax.
  • Health professionals collectively donated $445,153. These professionals likely have mixed feelings on the current Affordable Care Act.
  • Lobbyists representing Blue Cross/Blue Shield alone gave Toomey's re-election campaign $92,613. Blue PACs contributed $25 million in lobbying activity.

Check out an extensive list of industry donors here.

Health care reform is certainly something that won't happen overnight.

However, with so many invested parties trying to sway the future of health care policy, simply blaming the "unexpected" result of an election that happened nine months ago seems to disguise the real culprit in stalling any legislation on health care.

Why do you think it took Democrats a year and a half to build consensus around and pass the Affordable Care Act, even when they had both the legislative and executive branches? It appears to be the same story, different party.

Image: U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey

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