Republicans Announce New Health Care Bill That Would Allow States to Opt-Out

Feb 1, 2011 2:20pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

While Senate Republicans continue to push for a vote on the House-passed health care repeal bill as early as this week, they are aware that the repeal won’t summon the 60 votes needed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

So today two GOP lawmakers announced a separate attack on the new law – a bill that would allow states to opt out of it.

“Instead of requiring states to follow Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all approach to health care policy, our bill lets states decide what works best for their citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, said at a press conference today on Capitol Hill.

“This is basically giving states the right to come up with a plan that works best for them,” he said.

“We’re going to bring this up every time we can to make sure that the Senate is on record as to whether or not the states should have the ability to opt out and choose their own path when it comes to Obama health care,” said the bill’s co-sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC.

Graham called their approach “the third front” to attack the health care law, with the others being the full repeal bill and the states’ lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. Graham said yesterday’s Florida ruling that the law was unconstitutional was “a dagger into the heart of Obamacare.”

“The way this bill became law was the worst of Washington and I’m going to do everything I can to bring it down and start over,” he said, denouncing the process as one marred by “Chicago-style sleazy politics.”

The proposal from Graham and Barrasso would allow states to opt-out of the law’s major provisions such as the individual and employer mandates and the expansion of Medicaid.

“This bill, this opt-out provision, would take health care to the streets of America, not just the streets of Washington,” Graham said.

“The goal is to repeal and replace. And you’ve got to ask yourself this question: why are 26 states suing the federal government if they didn’t believe there was a problem with this bill?”

Meanwhile, the entire Senate Republican caucus is now united in support of the full repeal bill – all 47 GOP senators have signed on to it. However, that is well short of the 60 needed for Senate passage, even if it does come up for a vote.

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