LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Two Kentucky Senators are at the heart of the debate over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act also known as “Obamacare”.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the architects while Senator Rand Paul is the loudest voice in opposition.
Following a meeting at a Louisville company Monday, Senator Paul said the current bill pitched by Republican leadership is too similar to Obamacare to gain his support.
“What the Republican plan does is it acknowledges that the “death spiral” of Obamacare will continue”, said Senator Paul. “They take $120 billion and they give it to insurance companies and say, please lower your rates. Well the insurance companies make $15 billion a year in profit. I don't see having the taxpayer give insurance companies’ money."
Senator Rand Paul suggests, if passed, those subsidies will have the insurance companies coming back for more and the spiral will only worsen.
He said he had a "long conversation" with President Trump Sunday night and told the President that he'd support a bill that "looks more like a repeal" but it has to be fiscally conservative and the subsidies are one thing keeping him from supporting this plan.
He also claims that the GOP lead plan removes only 2 of 12 regulations from Obamacare and regulations are what make insurance too expensive for many Americans.
While Senator Paul is optimistic that President Trump would entertain negotiating he's not certain party leaders are as willing.
“I think he's open to try to do things”, said Senator Paul. “I don't want to characterize what he said too specifically but I encouraged him that he needs to also push leadership to negotiate. Right now we're not getting a lot back from leadership."
We asked how long Senator Paul would be willing to stand up to the President or if he’s willing to walk away with a “no” vote considering that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others will by unhappy with his stance?
Senator Paul answered, “You know, my promise to the voters of Kentucky, and really to all of America, was to repeal Obamacare. If the bill doesn't repeal Obamacare, and it simply keeps Obamacare with a new name, I just can't be for that. I also believe that what we pass needs to work.”
Late Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released an op-ed in support of his plan:
“Seven years ago, Democrats forced an unfair health care system on our country that they called the ‘Affordable Care Act.’ It turned out to be anything but. They told Americans it would lower their premiums — but Obamacare has increased premiums by an average of 105 percent in the vast majority of states on the federal exchange since 2013. Unless we act, we can expect similar trends for years to come.
“They told Americans it would expand choice in the health care marketplace — but Obamacare has left Americans in 70 percent of U.S. counties with little to no options for insurance this year. Unless we act, we can expect things to get worse. They told Americans it would allow them to keep their doctors, their plans, and their ability to make the smartest health care decisions for their families — but Obamacare forced millions off the plans they liked then forced millions into plans they either didn’t want or couldn’t afford. Unless we act, more Americans will be left trapped, forced by Obamacare to buy insurance but left without the means to actually do so.
“This is the Obamacare status quo as millions of Americans have come to know it. It’s unacceptable. It’s unsustainable. The American people need better care, which is exactly what we’re working to bring them. Through dozens of meetings and thorough conversations with every Member of our Conference, we’ve had the opportunity to discuss many different ideas and approaches for bringing relief from Obamacare. Ultimately, we found that there were a number of areas where we all agreed when it comes to what the critical issues we need to address are and how we can do so. Those solutions are what make up the draft legislation that was released last week and that we’ll continue working to consider now.
“Better Care will preserve access to care for patients with preexisting conditions, strengthen Medicaid, and allow children to remain on their parents’ insurance through the age of 26. Better Care will lower costs from where they are under Obamacare, by — among other things — eliminating taxes on the middle class, by giving Americans more power to control and reduce their medical costs and out-of-pocket expenses, and by giving states significant new tools to drive down premiums.
“Better Care will free Americans from onerous mandates under Obamacare, by repealing the employer mandate that reduces hours and take-home pay for too many workers and by repealing the individual mandate that forces Americans to buy unaffordable Obamacare insurance, freeing them to make the best health care decisions for their families on what types of plans they want and can afford.
“Better Care will help stabilize insurance markets that are collapsing under Obamacare, by first implementing stabilization policies then carefully transitioning away from Obamacare completely, so more families aren’t harmed by its collapsing markets. And as one major insurer observed today, this bill ‘will markedly improve the stability of the individual market and moderate premium increases.’“We should keep working so that we can move forward with robust floor debate and an open amendment process here on the Senate floor. I encourage all 100 Senators to participate. Because the American people need better care right now, and this legislation includes the necessary tools to provide it.”