Sen. Rand Paul on Obamacare: ‘Conservatives Will Be Listened to or There Won't Be a Repeal’

Susan Jones | March 1, 2017 | 5:03am EST
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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says conservatives will not accept anything less than a full repeal of Obamacare, including its subsidies. (Screen capture from CNN's "The Lead" with Jake Tapper)

( – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says he will not vote for anything less than full repeal of Obamacare.

“We don't want to keep Obamacare alive. We don't want to add in new subsidies or new entitlement programs,” Paul told CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

“Look, the government's broke. We borrow a million dollars a minute, so we want to completely repeal Obamacare and we want to replace it with something -- market reforms -- that will lower the cost of health insurance for everyone. 

“But we're not just going along with whatever they try to shove down our throats. We're going to be a big part of this. Conservatives will be listened to or there won't be a repeal.”

Paul and other congressional conservatives oppose the Obamacare replacement plan now taking shape because it includes refundable tax credits to help people pay their insurance premiums:

Refundable tax credits, this means you get back money you didn't pay. Somebody else's money. It's the same as a subsidy or the same as Medicaid or some kind of entitlement and it's not free. It's got to come from somewhere. 

So, I don't think we can dress up Democrat ideas and put a Republican stamp on them, call them a tax credit and say that we're giving them something different than what Obamacare was doing. What we should be for is lowering insurance premiums, lowering the rates and letting working class people get good insurance at a less expensive cost. But we shouldn't dress up a new government entitlement program. We are bankrupt as a country because we are overextended already on the entitlement programs that we have without adding new ones. 

Sen. Paul spoke hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans "have an obligation" to step in front of the collapsing Obamacare law and "replace it with a better system.”

But Ryan’s “better system” – and President Donald Trump’s -- includes tax credit subsidies based on a person’s age rather than income.

Ryan he said he anticipates that Republicans are "going to be unified on this," when the legislation finally emerges.

In his speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, President Donald Trump called on Congress to “repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better health care.

“Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.”

The president urged Democrats and Republicans to “work with us” to come up with a better system:

“Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans,” Trump said:

First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts -- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.

Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance - and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.

Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines -- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.

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