Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that he thinks the Senate healthcare bill “looks too much like Obamacare.”
Senator Rand Paul joined Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) in opposition to the Senate bill. The coalition of conservative senators argue that the legislation does not do enough to repeal Obamacare.
Senator Paul explained his opposition to the newly released Senate healthcare bill:
I think the bill looks too much like Obamacare. It really doesn’t look like a repeal bill. It looks like we’re keeping Obamacare, it keeps probably 100 percent of the Obamacare subsidies. In fact, we have estimated that it may have more subsidies than Obamacare. It creates a new stabilization fund of over $100 billion. This fund is something that is not consistent with conservative philosophy because it’s the government giving money to insurance companies. The bill keeps ten of twelve Obamacare regulations that causes the prices of premiums to spiral upward. So my fear is that Republicans in putting forward something and saying they’re repealing and replacing Obamacare and not making it better. It actually does not repeal and replacing Obamacare, it replaces it with more Obamacare or Obamacare-Lite, which doesn’t really fix the problem.
So the four of us said no with really the intention that we can use that leverage to try to make the bill better.
Paul told Breitbart News what changes the Senate has to make for him to vote yes on the bill. The Kentucky senator explained:
The bill has to look more like a repeal bill. So we repealed some of the spending, repeal more of the subsidies, and we have to not have a mismatch. See the bill does a pretty good job of repealing the taxes but it does not get rid of a lot of the spending. When you do that what you end up having is a problem with your debt, the bill will add a lot to the debt. It creates a new entitlement program that gives out over $100 billion to insurance companies, and that’s not why I joined the Republican party and not why I ran for office to vote for more entitlement programs.
The Senate healthcare bill retains Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion until 2024, a provision that Sen. Paul says that the Senate needs to rectify. He explained,
The problem is that the bill repeals the taxes that paid for the Medicaid expansion, but then keep the Medicaid expansion, the fact is that it never really goes away. It eventually goes to a split where the states have a little more responsibility but it never really goes away. So, that’s one aspect of Obamacare that is not repealed. Medicaid expansion is not repealed and the Obamacare expansion is not repealed. So you begin to ask yourself what’s really being repealed and the conclusion we have is that it’s not a very significant repeal.
Paul cautioned that the Senate bill might contain provisions that might allow illegal immigrants, permanent residents, and other non-citizens to obtain Obamacare subsidies. He said, “I think there’s an attempt after a few years to restrict who can get these Obamacare subsidies, but I think in the first couple of years it looks like they’re going to keep in place the Obamacare rules that may allow people that are not citizens to get subsidies.”
The Kentucky senator chided the Senate leadership’s lack of transparency regarding the bill. He said, “I would have preferred it to go through committee. I think the public is more accepting of things when there is more open debate, more witnesses on both sides, and it’s messier but at the same time what you get is a product that is more acceptable to a broader range of people.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to hold the vote for the Senate bill next week, despite the senators’ opposition to the bill. Senator Paul explained that his conservative coalition is willing to negotiate a deal if McConnell is willing to find common ground. Paul said, “I think it depends on how serious the Senate leadership is about negotiating. If they’re willing to negotiate with the four of us, we could find some compromise but we will have to see. I think we will find that out. That’s one reason we came out pretty quickly this morning because we wanted to make sure we could have some time for negotiation.”