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Santorum: Forget beer, let's repeal Obamacare

Mergers and acquisitions by energy companies, technology giants like IBM and even hotel chains have recently peppered the news.

Pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance announced Tuesday it would buy Rite Aid for $9 per share in an all-cash deal. And the world's two biggest brewers, Belgium's Anheuser-Busch InBev and South Africa-based brewer SABMiller, have faced a long string of negotiations in a deal that would mean rival brews like Budweiser and Miller Lite would be sold by the same company.

That deal could mean rising beer prices around the world. But Sen. Rick Santorum said he's more concerned about health insurance than about some of the other big industries seeing consolidation — like beer.

"In health care, what you're seeing is a lot of consolidation, and that consolidation is happening because of Obamacare," Santorum said. "You're seeing the health insurance companies fold up."

Obamacare's minimum loss ratios "make it impossible for a small insurer to operate effectively," a move that he said makes it easier for liberal candidates to push for single-payer systems to increase competition, Santorum said.

Instead, he said he would repeal Obamacare.

The candidates' position on Obamacare will be "very important" to 41 percent of voters, according to an insuranceQuotes.com survey.

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Candidates discussed the issue Wednesday night as part of a two-part televised debate, where Republican hopefuls vied for the party's nomination for president in 2016.

A poll by The New York Times and CBS this week put retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at the front of the pack of candidates, with 26 percent of Republican primary voters, trailed by Donald Trump at 22 percent, Marco Rubio with 8 percent, and Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush with 7 percent of the vote, each.

That's compared to an Oct. 20 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which showed real estate mogul Trump leading with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Carson in second place with 22 percent. Rubio ranked third with 13 percent, ahead of Cruz with 9 percent and Bush with 8 percent.

—CNBC's Nicholas Wells, Mark Fahey, Jacob Pramuk, Fred Imbert and Matt Clinch contributed to this report.