Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Newsmax TV on Thursday he remains dead set against the newly tweaked Senate healthcare bill and warned Republicans they will be clobbered with blame when their watered down version of the failing Affordable Care Act similarly begins to collapse.
"I don't think some miracle happens with this Republican plan," Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said on "Newsmax Now" with Bill Tucker. "The main thing that happens is now the . . . dysfunctional part of the marketplace is going to be blamed on Republicans.
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"The Republican bill doesn't cure the death spiral [of the Affordable Care Act]. It says, 'oh, we'll just subsidize it. We know it's still going to happen, so what we'll do is we'll take $200 billion of taxpayer money and we'll give it to the insurance companies and say, please lower your rates.'
"But if that's the Republican philosophy, we might as well be for a new car stabilization fund, so we can lower the price of cars, or a new iPhone stabilization fund, or a college stabilization fund."
Paul — an eye doctor and member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Labor who has long opposed anything other than a full and unconditional repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — told Tucker the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act is a bust.
"I think Obamacare is a disaster," he said. "I think it's in a death spiral, premiums have gone through the roof, but then I look at this bill, and it's just not repeal, it keeps over half of the Obamacare taxes, it keeps most of the Obamacare regulations, it keeps most of the Obamacare subsidies.
"And it has a nearly $200 billion insurance bailout superfund, and I want to know when it became the Republican position to be for a bailout of a multi-billion-dollar private industry? I'm just not for that. I'm not for giving a penny of taxpayer money to a billion-dollar insurance industry."
Paul said he and President Donald Trump have had several conversations about the future of American healthcare and both believe there should be two separate bills.
"Have a clean repeal bill, this would be a repeal of Obamacare," Paul said. "We repeal taxes, regulations, you name it. We repeal what Obamacare was and the disaster that it is.
"And then if there are moderate Republicans — or let's just call them for what they are, big government Republicans — if they insist on more federal spending on bailing out the insurance companies or more federal spending on opioids, tell them to put it in a big spending bill the Democrats like.
"And they can work with the Democrats on it. Then let's be honest about this — that some of us are for repeal and some are for replacing one big government program with another big government program."
The latest GOP plan, released Thursday, would provide an additional $70 billion in funding to stabilize insurance exchanges over 10 years in an effort to win over GOP holdouts who have kept the legislation in limbo. Past attempts to bring the Senate bill to a vote because of continued GOP opposition from some states.
It throws out earlier plans to repeal three Obamacare taxes on the wealthy and includes a provision allowing people to use health savings accounts to pay insurance premiums. Because of the GOP's 52-48 Senate majority, Republican leaders can lose no more than two votes and some GOP lawmakers continue to oppose the remake.
Paul said one of the great dishonesties of the Affordable Care Act is that it expanded Medicaid in many states and the federal government foots the bill. Medicaid is a social healthcare program for those with limited resources who are unable to pay for healthcare.
"The problem is the federal government doesn't have enough to pay for the existing Medicaid before you expand it. This year the federal government will be $500 billion short. Next year we're estimated to be $1 trillion short," he said.
"So when you say, oh the federal government is going to pay for Medicaid, it is dishonest and that was one of the fundamental dishonesties of Obamacare. That kind of continues under the Republican plan. They actually leave the Medicaid expansion in place.
"But eventually over about a seven-year period they shift back to letting the states pay a portion of Medicaid the way it typically is and that makes it at least a little bit more honest accounting, but we've got to wait seven or eight years to get there."
Asked how Medicare can be saved, Paul responded:
"When you look at all of the spending, two-thirds of the spending is entitlements," he said. "Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and those programs occupy two-thirds of the spending.
"But if you add up how much they are in debt already, Medicare is said to be somewhere between $35 and $50 trillion in the hole, Social Security is said to be $7 trillion in the hole. Medicaid is perpetually in the hole because there is no specific funding source, no specific tax for Medicaid. Same with food stamps.
"So all of these things are spending more than comes in, and we were having difficulty paying for them before we got to Obamacare. There's no money for the exemption of any of the things that Obamacare wants the government to do."
The Republican plan errantly keeps a lot of those money drains, he said.
"We keep the regulations of Obamacare, most of them, we keep the subsidies, most of them, we keep most of the taxes, and we create a brand-new entitlement to bailout funds for the insurance companies," Paul said. "I wonder how anybody could seriously call it repeal.
"I've been in medicine for 20 years, and even before Obamacare people were unhappy with insurance companies and unhappy with the cost of insurance, unhappy with how healthcare was being delivered, and then they got even more unhappy after Obamacare."
That is why it is a major mistake for Republicans to "want to own this thing," he added.
"They're not going to fix the fundamental flaw of Obamacare, and that flaw is that if you tell people they can buy insurance after they get sick, they will," he said.
"And if you tell young, healthy people that they have to have 10, 15 mandates on the insurance that makes the insurance expensive, and they also know they can buy insurance after they get sick, guess what? Young people won't buy insurance, and they'll wait until they get sick. . . . I hope we start over and do a clean repeal."
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