Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned Sunday that health insurance companies “have gamed the system” and crawled to the federal government to “get bailed out” in a rebuke of Senate GOP leaders’ plan for a partial repeal and replace of Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday evening that he had chosen to delay the chamber’s consideration of the Better Care Reconciliation Act until Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has recovered from surgery for a blood clot and returned to Washington, D.C. McCain’s vote is crucial for the Better Care Act because McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes, and both Paul and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have announced they will be voting “no.”
Paul, a conservative, contends the bill does not deliver on Republicans’ explicit promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Collins, one of the least conservative members of the Senate GOP, believes the plan cuts the expansion of Medicaid too deeply and wants to protect other Obamacare provisions.
"This bill keeps most of the Obamacare taxes, keeps most of the regulations, keeps most of the subsidies," Paul said on Fox News' "Fox News Sunday." "And [it] creates something that Republicans have never been for, and that's a giant insurance bailout superfund."
On CBS News' "Face the Nation," Paul speculated that the delay due to McCain's recovery will only prove to be more fatal for the bill's prospects of passing.
"You know, I think the longer the bill's out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover that it's not repeal and the more that everybody's going to discover that it keeps the fundamental flaw of Obamacare," Paul said. "It keeps the insurance mandates that cause the prices to rise, which chase young, healthy people out of the marketplace, and leads to what people call adverse selection, where you have a sicker and sicker insurance pool, and the premiums keep rising through the roof."
"They elected us to repeal Obamacare. And now we're going to keep most of the taxes, keep the regs, keep the subsidies, and create a giant bailout superfund for the insurance companies.
"And one of the amazing things to me is, for all the complaints of Republicans about Obamacare, we keep that fundamental flaw," Paul added. "And the reason you know Republicans acknowledge this is [that] they make a giant insurance fund to subsidize those prices. Basically, they're subsidizing the death spiral of Obamacare. So for all Republicans' complaints about the death spiral of Obamacare, they don't fix it — they simply subsidize it with taxpayer monies, which I just don't agree with at all."
Saying that the insurance companies make "about $15 billion in profit every year," Paul said he could not support taxpayer money being funneled out to subsidize the industry while hard-working Americans suffer. To do so, Paul argued, is "not at all consistent with conservative principles, free market principles, or being a Republican."
"Right now, the insurance companies have gamed the system such that they get enormous profit from the group plans. And then they lose money in the individual markets and they whine and they come to Washington," Paul said on "Face the Nation." "They write the bill and they get bailed out. It's a terrible situation."
Paul contends that the Senate GOP's health care reform proposition "has nothing to do with repeal" and warned President Donald Trump against "overselling what's going to happen" if the bill should pass.
"I mean, we promised the voters for four elections. They elected us to repeal Obamacare. And now we're going to keep most of the taxes, keep the regs, keep the subsidies and create a giant bailout superfund for the insurance companies. I just don't see it," Paul said on "Face the Nation."
Paul speculated that McConnell did not have the votes necessary to ensure the bill's passage. (go to page 2 to continue reading)
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Collins appeared on ABC News' "This Week" to register concerns from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. While Paul claimed the GOP Senate's bill didn't do enough to dismantle Obamacare, Collins complained that the bill did too much and would "jeopardize the very existence of our rural hospitals and our nursing homes" because of its proposed cuts to the expansion of Medicaid.
"This bill would make sweeping and deep cuts to the Medicaid program, which has been a safety net program on the books for more than 50 years, ensuring that some of our most vulnerable citizens or disabled children or low-income seniors receive the health care that they need," Collins said. "It would affect our rural hospitals and nursing homes, and they would have a very difficult time even staying in existence."
Collins also worried that the bill's option of allowing insurers to offer plans that are both compatible and incompatible with Obamacare's standards would "lead to insurance plans that really are barely insurance at all. It would cause premiums to increase for some very vulnerable individuals, including those with pre-existing conditions, depending on what states decide to do."
"You can't take more than $700 billion out of the Medicaid program and not think that it's going to have some kind of effect," Collins added. "I do know this: We should not be making fundamental changes in a vital safety net program that's been on the books for 50 years … without evaluating what the consequences will be."