Exclusive—Rick Santorum on Obamacare Repeal Plan: ‘We Have an Obligation to Fix What’s Broken’

AP Photo/Eric Gay
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that he will soon unveil a new Obamacare block-grant repeal proposal, arguing that the new plan will lower premiums and increase the number of people with health insurance.

Santorum, along with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), created a new Obamacare block grant repeal approach known as Graham-Cassidy. Graham-Cassidy almost garnered enough support to pass through the Senate last September. Now that Republicans have managed to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, Republicans can capitalize on that momentum to fully repeal and replace Obamacare in 2018.

Breitbart News reported on Monday that Santorum, along with several conservative groups, “seems just a few weeks away from being able to unveil” the new Obamacare repeal bill.

Santorum told Breitbart News, “We have a group of thinkers across the country working on this. We started with a basic idea of the block grant, but we have redone the whole thing. It is very, very different than the previous iteration. We are working with different senators, obviously, the folks who worked on this before are very involved, but it is a bigger group. This is a grassroots effort; the ideas have come from across the country. I am excited about this; this is something, I have never really seen something quite like this effort.”

The former Pennsylvania senator continued, explaining that he continues to work with the White House and senators to pass an Obamacare bill through Congress’s upper chamber.

Santorum said, “If you talk to anyone on the Hill, or in the White House, they will say that health care is done, or we are going to do something else before the election. No one is seriously thinking about how we are going to improve the health care system. That is why it is exciting to see voices from around the country participate in a consensus type of bill. For the first few months of this, it did not involve anyone on the Hill; it was just outside, and now we need to vet these ideas with lawmakers who might be supportive. We have had discussions with the White House; we have had lots of discussions with lots of senators. We are focused on the Senate because that is where the bill has to pass. If the Senate cannot pass the bill, there’s no point in going through this exercise.”

“It is up to the Senate to provide some leadership here,” Santorum added.

A spokesman from Sen. Cassidy’s office said, “Graham-Cassidy is dead, but skyrocketing health care costs still need to be addressed. Our focus is on new solutions and new ideas that lower costs for families and reflect the latest developments in the healthcare marketplace.”

Santorum then explained to Breitbart News that Graham-Cassidy ultimately failed because it was a rushed bill and had little political support up until the last minute. Santorum, however, has been working on the new block grant approach since last November. If Republicans were to take up another Obamacare repeal push, they would have more time to pass a bill through Congress compared to Graham-Cassidy.

Santorum argued, “Graham-Cassidy was a rush. We had nobody helping us through August, and by the time people did, there were all sorts of issues that popped up. It would have been fine, but we would have had to go back and tweak a couple of things. This time we have the opportunity to get the policy better. People say it is Graham-Cassidy 2; it really isn’t. We are going to stay focused on fixing the health care system when it comes to the individual on the market. We are not going to get involved with Medicaid and trying to fix Medicaid. We did not promise in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 that we are going to fix Medicaid, we said that we are going to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

The Pennsylvania Republican then suggested that his group remains focused on lowering health insurance premiums while retaining access to quality health care.

Santorum said that they will focus on “the Medicaid expansion, the tax credit system, the horrible waste money that is the Obamacare regulations that were put in place.”

“It is much more like welfare reform, we have some real guidelines to make sure that the system is going to work well for giving consumers choices and lowering premiums,” Santorum added.

Santorum then charged that Republicans need to fix the American health care system rather than try to bail out Obamacare with proposals such as cost-sharing reduction payments [CSRs] or reinsurance.

“The driver for us is that is that it is a policy that will fix the system that’s broken,” Santorum told Breitbart News. “That broken system, whether you throw more money at it through CSRs or reinsurance, or whatever you want to do, it is still a broken system that is going to hemorrhage cash and not going to provide quality care or quality access and affordable cost. We have an obligation to fix what’s broken.”

Santorum revealed that he spoke to over “100 different groups that are free-market oriented, conservative-oriented groups” and his group has reached out to Republicans across the entire spectrum of the Republican party. Santorum added that his group has spoken with “even a couple of Democrats,” regarding their new health care proposal.

The former suggested that the Obamacare repeal plan will simultaneously “lower premiums” while increasing the number of insured.

Santorum concluded, “We think that there is a lack of leadership in the House and the Senate to come back on this and now the public is saying that we want to do this.”

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