Reacting to news that two House committees were to release a replacement to Obamacare, which has since been heralded as the American Health Care Act, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Sunday that will not vote for “Obamacare lite.” Speaking on Fox News, Paul said, “I want a free-market replacement with more power going back to the individuals.” He said, “Some Republicans want to keep parts of Obamacare, and I’m not going to vote for that.”
Last week, Paul criticized his Republican colleagues when a draft of the bill was released to the media before senators had seen it. “This should be done openly and in public,” he said at the time. “Conservatives who don’t want Obamacare lite should be allowed to see the bill.” Paul dramatically went to the office where the bill was said to be sequestered but was turned away by a House staffer. Paul said the GOP replacement bill was being treated as if it were a national secret. “That’s wrong,” he said.
Paul said last week on "The First 100 Days" that the similarities between Obamacare and the new bill are "Democrat ideas dressed up in Republican clothing."
In a statement, Paul said, “I will not settle, and I will not stand idly by while the American people are kept in the dark. I will continue to speak out for full repeal.”
The senator might have an uphill battle to make that happen among his colleagues. On Fox News’ "Special Report" tonight, commentator Charles Krauthammer reacted to the Republican Obamacare replacement plan, calling on conservatives to "fall on their swords" so that the bill can pass. Krauthammer said resistance by Paul and fellow conservatives may doom President Trump's promise to repeal-and-replace Obamacare. Paul and the House Freedom Caucus are wary of funding government entitlements financed by taxpayers and regulating mandates.
"In the end,” Krauthammer said, “ ... the conservatives are going to have to fall on their swords. There is no way they can... eliminate the entitlements. I think it would destroy the presidency."
Once an entitled has been established, it is difficult to abolish it. He said that Obama made permanent at least one if not more health care entitlements. If conservatives ask Trump for a fiscally-conservative replacement bill, said Krauthammer, it would be "disastrous."
Some Republicans appear to be preparing the way to passage of the bill. On "Special Report," House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said it would repeal repeals all taxes and subsidies on the current Affordable Care Act, but offer the same tax breaks to individual workers as the government would to businesses. "This really fits what Americans need," Brady said. Regarding entitlements, House Energy Committee Chairman Gregory Walden (R-OR) said the new bill doesn't "pull the rug out from under people" who now receive a subsidy. "We create a market that's affordable and available and that works," he said.
There are four other Republicans who have expressed opposition to the healthcare bill being offered by House Republicans. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that while they agree "structural reforms" to Medicaid are needed, the House GOP plan "does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states."