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Toomey Flubs on Health Care Law, Dems Pounce

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Senator Pat Toomey is backing away from a previous claim that the recent health care reform law has resulted in employers cutting benefits. Democrats from DC to Harrisburg are eagerly pointing it out.

At issue: during a meeting with the Editorial Board of the Bucks County Courier Times, Toomey was asked how he can call for the repeal of the health care law when few, if any, negative effects have been felt.

Toomey responded that the health reform law has already forced “many” businesses to eliminate employee health insurance. That concern has been a rallying cry among opponents of the health care law. (You can watch video of the exchange here. It’s near the beginning).

Only one problem: there’s no proof.

Asked to back up the claim, Toomey and his staff found that there is no official list of employers that have dropped coverage. They could find only a list of companies that have requested temporary waivers from the law.

The Courier Times discovered that so far, there isn’t much indication that employers will drop coverage en masse. Indeed, they found that most large employers plan to keep their health plans rather than risk fines and increased competition for skilled employees.

Democrats were eager to get the issue some attention. The Democratic National Committee sent an email to the press, while PA Democratic Party spokesman Mark Nicastre tweeted the story.

Asked for comment, Nicastre elaborated.

“The Bucks County Courier Times caught Pat Toomey red handed lying about health insurance reform – just like Sarah Palin and her death panel lie.” he said. “Pat Toomey isn’t a serious policymaker, he is just another extreme Republican who makes up facts to fit his narrow, radical ideology. Any policy argument Pat Toomey makes in the future should be taken with a huge grain of salt based on his willingness to lie about the facts when the truth is inconvenient.”

In the past, Toomey’s comments on the issue have characterized employee benefit cuts as a likely future outcome, rather than an immediate one (the law won’t take full effect until 2014). His claim that many employers have already cut coverage was a bridge too far, he admitted, when he called the Courier Times to say that he “misspoke.”

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