Sen. Rand Paul: ‘I Can Summarize the Health Care Cost Problem in One Sentence’

By Susan Jones | June 23, 2017 | 9:51am EDT
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is among the Republican senators who have concerns about the health care bill produced by Senate Republicans on Thursday. He spoke to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday, June 23, 2017. (Screen grab from MSNBC)

( – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says he wants the Republican health care bill to look more like a repeal bill.

“I promised people I was going to repeal it. I didn’t promise people that I was going to replace it with a federal program or bailing out insurance companies,” the senator told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday.

Paul said the Republican bill brought out in summary form Thursday retains “the fundamental flaws” of Obamacare that keep premiums high.

Paul said he would prefer to address actual medical costs. "And I can summarize the health care cost problem in one sentence,” Paul said:

The reason  capitalism doesn’t work in health care is the consumer is disconnected from the product. Consumers do not make decisions based on price in health care except for a few exceptions.

Lasik surgery – where you want to get surgery to get rid of glasses -- everybody asks the price. The average consumer calls four different doctors. It’s a very sophisticated laser, million dollar laser, yet the price is going down by three-quarters over 15 years.

Contact lenses, same way. When you connect the consumer, the consumer cares about the price. Guess what, the consumer will shop, and when the consumer shops, competition works. But we’re not really doing that in health care.

Most of health care has fixed prices -- Medicare, fixed prices; Medicaid, fixed prices; and even private insurance, no consumer shops for price. There’s a little bit of competition in what prices come forward, but not really with the consumer involved.

Paul said the fundamental flaw of Obamacare is that it allows people to buy insurance after they’re sick, and it subsidized premiums by “dumping a bunch of money in insurance companies.”

“My problem is, insurance companies already make $15 billiion a year. I don’t think the taxpayers should give them any money.”

Paul said he would like to “legalize inexpensive insurance,” by having insurance companies, not the taxpayer, assume the risk:

“I have absolutely no sympathy for the insurance companies to be bailed out by the taxpayer. That $15 billion of profit – that’s where the risk should come from. That’s where, when we have to absorb risk when people get sick, it should come out of their profit. It shouldn’t come out of the taxpayer’s pocket.”

Paul also called for “honest debate” on how to pay for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which added low-income adults to the system intended for the elderly poor and the disabled.

“And so if you say the federal government’s going to pay for it, it’s very easy, because the federal government has a printing press, you know, down at the Federal Reserve – they’ll just crank out, we’ll add to our debt.

“We have a $500-billion debt every year, so saying that the federal government’s going to pay for it, really is not honest. So what I tell people is, if we want Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, Kentucky ought to pay for it.”

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