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June 23, 2017

Toomey: Senate health care bill 'important and constructive first step in repealing Obamacare'

Pennsylvania lawmakers are speaking out after the U.S. Senate's long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was unveiled on Thursday.

The draft bill comes almost two months after the House passed its own measure. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning a vote next week.

The bill, which was written behind closed doors, is facing its fair share of criticism from Democrats who say that it negatively mimics the House's plan. Sen. Bernie Sanders went so far to call it "by far the most harmful piece of legislation [he's] seen in [his] lifetime." 

Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Bob Casey (D) will help determine the draft bill's fate in the GOP-ruled Senate.

Toomey, who helped craft the proposal, is among a handful of Republican lawmakers who support it, according to a roundup by The Washington Post.

A majority of GOP senators told the publication that they're not sure where they stand while four, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, oppose the current bill out outright.

Toomey told the publication that he is "likely" to vote for the legislation. He also called it "an important and constructive first step in repealing Obamacare" making way for a "better, stable" system, in a statement released on Twitter

“Obamacare is failing Pennsylvanians," he wrote. "As taxes, premiums and deductibles continue to skyrocket, choices and access to care have dwindled."

Toomey also penned an op-ed in the Inquirer Friday, further outlining Obamacare's "failures."

As he's done in the past, Casey went on a tweetstorm and held a rally Friday morning in opposition.

In a statement obtained by The Morning Call, he said:

The Senate Republican bill is a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans; the top one-tenth of the one percent would receive thousands upon thousands of annual tax cuts while some individuals with disabilities lose coverage. That is obscene. 

Further, this legislative scheme that will take away health care for millions of Americans is being supported by a bunch of Senate Republicans whose health care coverage is guaranteed by the taxpayer. 

America is better than that; we can take care of vulnerable Americans and still have a growing economy for the middle class and keep our country safe.

President Donald Trump, who vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare during his campaign, praised the Senate's bill, but noted changes were likely.

"It's going to be very good," Trump said at the White House, according to CNN. "A little negotiation, but it's going to be very good."