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Senators Debate Health Care Battle And Outcomes

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Ohio’s senators continue to differ on their support of the federal healthcare overhaul and what can -- or should -- replace it if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down all or part of it. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Ohio’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman has questioned the healthcare overhaul from the start: philosophically and financially.

Portman: “There are lots of good reasons people are concerned about it. I share those concerns about the cost of this law to the economy and to jobs and also to our families because the costs have gone up not down. And folks also are also concerned obviously about the level of government involvement in their healthcare, and whether the concern whether they can keep what they have.”

Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown also raised concerns early on about the overhaul. He authored a bill that would have allowed a kind of Medicare for all Americans as an alternative.

Brown: “I wrote the public option language and legislation that almost got through the House and Senate to the president’s desk. I think that would have meant that we probably would not be having these court challenges and we would be moving forward now. “

Instead, the law relies on the mandate that all Americans must have insurance – through Medicare, Medicaid, employers or private exchanges. And that’s the law the U.S. Supreme Court is considering throwing out.

Brown thinks the court could or should be cognizant of what else would be thrown out with the mandate.

Brown:“I would imagine insurance would start cancelling, like they used to, those families with children with preexisting conditions. I worry about what it means for the costs of prescription drugs for seniors so I don’t think the court would want to create that kind of chaos for that many American families and that’s why I hope they move forward on this.”

Portman isn’t talking about the immediate aftermath should the court strike down the law. But he’s promoting replacement ideas.

Portman: “I also believe strongly that there are ways to make the health-care system work better by making it more patient centered, having less fee for service, fewer third-party payments so that people take more personal responsibility. I also believe competition works and if you had more competition between insurance companies for us, consumers, letting people sell across state lines, and if you had more competition between providers.”

Portman also maintains that curtailing malpractice lawsuits will save billions.

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