All across the country, citizens are worried about the rising cost of health care and the government's growing control over our health care decisions.
Instead of giving the government more power, Senator Pat Toomey believes the best way to lower health care costs is to empower patients and increase transparency within the health care system. One way to do that is to create greater equity among purchasers of health insurance. We can start by giving individuals who buy their own health insurance the same tax benefits that employers enjoy when they buy health insurance for their employees. This will make health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans who buy their own coverage.
Second, we should allow individuals and businesses to buy health insurance across state lines. Currently, the law prohibits a worker in Pennsylvania from buying a health insurance plan from another state. Changing this law will give individuals access to a large array of health care options and will lower costs by forcing health insurance companies to compete with one another.
Third, Sen. Toomey also believes we can lower health care costs by enacting comprehensive tort reform. Currently, excessive litigation forces doctors to pay higher premiums and to practice defensive medicine, resulting in unnecessary medical tests and costs.
Fourth, we should allow small businesses and groups to join together to form association health plans to lower the cost of providing health care. We should also help facilitate a market for renewable health plans to ensure people with preexisting conditions are able to keep their health insurance.
Sen. Toomey believes that the president's health care law is fundamentally wrong in its approach to improving our nation's health care system. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act imposes onerous new mandates and regulations that will have numerous unintended consequences. It's bad for patients, it's bad for doctors, and it's bad for our economy. Additionally, it threatens to put serious strains on our nation's long term fiscal outlook. It is for these reasons that Sen. Toomey is an original co-sponsor of S. 192, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.
Sen. Toomey has also been a leader in working to eliminate the worst elements of the government-run health care law, voting to eliminate the onerous 1099 tax requirement which would have required all businesses to submit 1099 forms for every transaction valued at more than $600 a year. Additionally, he supported legislation to eliminate the medical device tax, a provision in the government-run health care law that will penalize small up-and-coming companies and consumers.
Sen. Toomey is also at the forefront of the debate regarding protecting religious freedoms from intrusion by the federal government. In February 2012, Sen. Toomey co-sponsored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 (S. 2043), which would provide a religious exemption from a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act regulation that forces members of religious entities to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs or potentially pay a heavy financial penalty.
The rule requires all group and individual health plans to provide coverage for prescription contraceptives and female sterilization, exempting only those religious employers who primarily serve and employ individuals who share their religious tenets. Catholic and other denominational hospitals, universities, colleges, nursing homes and charities would find it virtually impossible to comply with this narrow exemption, given the diverse workforces and populations that they serve.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act ensures that employers have the opportunity to provide health coverage for their employees that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions, without fear of being penalized or discriminated against under the health care law.
Sen. Toomey has also co-sponsored the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467) and has written a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about this matter. His letter can be read here.
We all deserve access to the world's best health care. Sen. Toomey knows this can only be accomplished by reforming the system in ways that give more control to patients and doctors - not to the federal government.