Republican Sen. Rand Paul told reporters Monday he thinks proponents of the GOP House leadership-backed Obamacare repeal bill are attempting to bang “a square peg into a round hole,” but believes conservatives and moderates are getting closer to finding common ground on health care reform.
Republicans have two options on moving forward with repealing and replacing Obamacare according to Paul. The leadership and the administration can continue to attempt to sway lawmakers to support the bill in its current form, or they can adopt a new approach. While he’d prefer Congress to opt against moving forward with the bill pulled from the House floor in late-March due to lack of support, he said at a pen and pad he’s confident they can strike a deal.
Paul, who discussed health care with President Donald Trump while playing golf Sunday, suggested keeping certain Obamacare provisions in place to placate those who support the refundable tax credits in the legislation while protecting conservatives from voting in favor of what they consider to be a new entitlement program.
“One way to not put them (the advanceable, refundable tax credits) in at all is simply to leave in place something that’s part of Obamacare that’s similar dollar wise,” he said. “To conservatives’ minds, the replacement tax credits have simply been an entitlement program similar to Obamacare subsidies.”
He said he’s optimistic after meeting with Trump, but noted he believes the administration is still hoping to work with what they have.
Paul was a staunch critic of the American Health Care Act, referring to the legislation as “Obamacare lite” and encouraging members of the House Freedom Caucus to vote against the measure. He said he thinks they may need a new construct to get everyone on the same page, adding he had a constructive conversation with Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, the co-chair of the moderate Tuesday group earlier in the day.
One of the main sticking points for House conservatives is the repeal of Obamacare’s Title I regulations, arguing its critical they be eliminated if they want to substantially bring down premiums. Paul said he would likely be willing to compromise if leadership is willing to do away with the majority of the insurance mandates.
“You know conservatives want a 100 percent and moderates want 80 percent repeal — let’s vote on 90 percent repeal and be done with it,” he said.
Paul was slated to meet with members of the House Freedom Caucus Monday afternoon.
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