Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Wednesday afternoon announced that he cannot support the revised and yet-to-be-revealed Senate Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare as of right now, complaining that legislation will boost spending on subsidies and keep some Obamacare taxes.
“We’ve had time to hear what’s going to be in the new bill, and as far as I can tell, the new bill is the same as the old bill except for it leaves in place more taxes, increases taxpayer subsidies to buy insurance, and adds about $70 billion to the insurance bailout superfund,” he told reporters on a conference call. “I don’t see anything in here really remotely resembling repeal. And I’ve said for some time now that the bill has to looks more like repeal to get my vote.”
“I can’t support it at this point,” Paul said.
Paul said that he has sent requests to Senate GOP leadership for changes to the bill, but he did not specify what those requests were. He instead pitched passing a bill repealing Obamacare, and then allowing Republicans to work with Democrats to pass bills that contain the “big government spending items.” He said that an initial repeal would not need to be a clean repeal, but that he believes he could find certain aspects of Obamacare that the majority of the Republican caucus agrees on nixing.
“I guarantee that on repeal, Susan Collins and I have common ground,” he said, referencing the more moderate senator from Maine who opposes the deep cuts to Medicaid in the Senate repeal bill.
Paul was also not convinced that an amendment to the bill proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) could win over his vote. That proposal would allow insurers to offer plans that do not comply with Obamacare standards as long as they offer one compliant plan. Paul said that he liked that the proposal gives insurance companies more “freedom.” But he warned against the tweaks needed to address the likelihood that the proposal would lead to adverse selection — healthier individuals would opt for cheaper plans, leaving sick Americans purchasing the more expensive plans. Sick Americans would then need large subsidies to be able to afford the more robust plans, and Paul said this amendment would lead to “a lot more money in the insurance bailout fund.”