Portman Suspects Obamacare Repeal Will Be GOP Senate’s Priority

If Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said he suspected the new majority would hold a repeal vote on Obamacare early.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen specifically on votes on Obamacare,” Portman said Thursday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. “I suspect we will vote to repeal early, to put on record the fact that we Republicans think it was a bad policy and we think it’s hurting our constituents. And we think it’s going down, not up. We think people should be able to keep the insurance that they had.”

Portman added that he would support such a vote and supports repeal.

“But I think we ought to also spend more time on the replacement side of that and the Republican approach has never been just repeal it’s also always been ‘lets get rid of this but lets replace it with something that does deal with the very real problem in our health care system and that is increased costs and the lack of coverage,” Portman said.

Asked if that meant Portman thought a Republican Senate majority should develop its own healthcare reform plan, the senator from Ohio said “I think we should. I think we should.”

“I think it’s something that ought to go along with the repeal to say ‘yes we think this is the wrong way to go but we also think that the healthcare system must be improved,'” Portman said.

Still, even if the Republicans controlled the Senate, Democrats could filibuster repeal legislation. Portman said that there were smaller changes to the healthcare system that he could picture President Barack Obama signing.

“But there are also some specific things where I think the Senate and the House could act and the president would actually sign legislation,” Portman said. “Getting rid of the medical device tax, which is a tax not on profits but on revenues is one where you could see certainly a 60 vote in the Senate and certainly a two thirds majority.”

Portman also mentioned dealing with “frivolous lawsuits.”

“Just in terms of the federal programs it’s over $50 billion over ten years and much more than that when you add the private sector so there’s some areas here where I think you can find some common ground that we talked about,” Portman said.

(Photo credit: Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

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