Rand Paul: No more Obamacare-lite bills — we must have real repeal

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. introduces Transportation Secretary-designate Elaine Chao at her confirmation hearing before Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson)

As a physician, original member of the Tea Party and a constitutionalist, I oppose Obamacare with every ounce of energy I have, every day. I have voted consistently for real Obamacare repeal.

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I’ve even voted for partial repeal, but I will not give cover to those in Congress who now are too timid to vote for it. I will not vote for fake repeal just so these weak-in-the-knees Republicans can go home and claim they voted for “repeal.”

I’ve spent nearly 25 years as a doctor, most of those as an eye surgeon in Kentucky. No one in the Senate knows more about the problems in Obamacare and our health care system than me, and I can assure you this goes double for the liberal media — writing for a living about subjects they’ve never practiced.

RARE POV: Rand Paul: The failure to repeal Obamacare means premiums will continue to skyrocket

I pledged to repeal Obamacare, and I’ve voted multiple times to do so. I reintroduced the 2015 repeal bill this year to allow my colleagues the chance to simply vote as they did then. Inexplicably, six of them changed their votes when it mattered.

I also authored a complete repeal and replace bill that would have introduced real free market reforms — the only type of “replace” that would actually fix the system.

I compromised by supporting the so-called “skinny repeal,” because it did repeal the mandates and some taxes while expanding Health Savings Accounts. While it did not repeal everything I wanted to, it also didn’t force me to vote affirmatively to replace Obamacare with “Obamacare-lite.”

The most recent “fake” repeal, Graham-Cassidy, kept almost all of the Obamacare taxes and spending and simply reshuffled the spending to the states. I promised to repeal Obamacare, not to keep it and simply block grant it.

Fake repeal bills, or Obamacare-lite, are not what we promised. Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the authors of the Graham-Cassidy bill, on national television, looked into a camera and assured liberal voters: don’t worry. All of your money is in this bill. In fact, the authors’ sales pitch was basically, ‘If you like Obamacare, you can keep it.’

Really? I didn’t promise to vote for federal taxes and spending and simply tell California you can keep Obamacare, or, if you want, you can even change it into a state-run single payer. No way. No how.

I can’t in good conscience vote to give federal money to California and New York and say, “Go to town. Try socialism, if you like.”

Why would I support a partial repeal but not a bill that included a new way to spend the same trillion dollars as Obamacare? Because while I can take half a loaf now and keep fighting for the rest, I can’t take 10 percent or less of a loaf knowing that my colleagues would then have declared the battle over.

“Skinny repeal” would have left the issues of spending and Medicaid reform for another day. I can live with that and keep fighting. Graham-Cassidy and the Senate leader’s bill brought them to an unacceptable conclusion — we would keep spending nearly all the Obamacare money.

While we keep working for real repeal in the Senate, I also wanted to make sure you know about something I’ve been working with President Trump on for months.

In the coming days, the president will use his regulatory power to fix bad, old rules that stop competition in insurance purchasing.

Our plan will greatly expand something called Association Health Plans, which would provide lower-cost insurance to millions of Americans and allow them to buy insurance across state lines.

RARE POV: Rand Paul has an idea for affordable health care that will also cover pre-existing conditions if the idiots in Washington would just listen

How? By allowing the formation of new large groups and allowing the policies to be written without so much of the Obamacare red tape and over-regulation.

Much of the problem in insurance, including that of preexisting conditions, comes from when people are on their own or in a small group. Instead of solving this problem with huge mandates and taxes, President Trump and I have a plan to solve it through competition.

I want the consumer to be king and make better deals for insurance, and large groups of hundreds of thousands of people would have that power.

This will be a huge step forward and a way to get people out from under the worst parts of Obamacare while we keep fighting for repeal.

What do you think?

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