Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) encouraged President Donald Trump to use an executive order to define what constitutes a “healthcare association” and allow nationwide groups to form and garner leverage to negotiate with big insurance companies during an interview Wednesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
Paul, who ardently opposed the House GOP leadership’s failed American Health Care Act, recommend Trump issue an executive order to allow “the little guys” to join together to give consumers power in the health care reform debate. If the executive order used careful wording so the Department of Labor could allow the groups to exist, Paul predicted it would make a huge shift in the right direction.
“So I think the Republican Party should thank the Freedom Caucus for actually trying to get this right and for using their leverage to try to make this thing a more conservative bill and less of a big government bill.”
“The other thing I remain, continue to remain very encouraged on is the idea of these buying groups. Not only within states, but nationally,” Paul said. “And I’m encouraging the White House that their Department of Labor could decide and could define what is a healthcare association, even without a change in the [Employee Retirement Income Security Act].”
“Let’s say President Trump were to legalize or normalize a nationwide restaurant association — we’re now talking about millions of people that would have the leverage to get lower prices,” Paul added. “I think this can be done by executive order and I’m encouraging the White House to do it … I don’t think he’s beholden to big business in any way.”
Noting that the media largely ignored the House’s recent vote on such an idea, Paul expressed his surprise that only four Democrats voted “yes” alongside all the Republicans.
“I don’t understand Democrats’ opposition to this because the principle is basically letting the little guys join together into a group to have power to give consumers power against the insurance companies,” Paul said. “But one thing it did do is it united the Republicans.”
The Republican Party has been in disarray since the a leadership package to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed after failing to gain enough support from conservatives and a few moderates in the GOP.
Although the conservative House Freedom Caucus was the recipient of much of the blame for the bill’s failure, Paul lauded the group’s members for remaining “principled” and “honorable.”
“The establishment doesn’t like the Freedom Caucus because they are principled and honorable men and women. And I have the greatest respect for them,” Paul said. “I think they did what absolutely they were elected to do. They did what they told people we would do, is vote for repeal, and they didn’t vote for Obamacare Lite.”
Noting that “establishment hacks throughout the media” have maligned those opposed to the AHCA, Paul said it is not always a bad thing for someone to remain “uncompromising.”
“But really it was actually the House leadership that was uncompromising and refused to talk to conservative before they plopped this, you know, horrible bill on the floor,” Paul insisted. “People need to realize that without the Freedom Caucus we would have gotten Obamacare Lite. They wouldn’t have fixed the problem.”
“So I think the Republican Party should thank the Freedom Caucus for actually trying to get this right and for using their leverage to try to make this thing a more conservative bill and less of a big government bill,” Paul added.
Although healthcare reform appears to be moved to the back burner for now, Paul insisted that “the conversation still goes on.”
“So I don’t think it’s as precipitous as people say — ‘Oh, it’s over. The door is closed. It’s done,’” Paul said. “But I can tell you that the conversations between House conservatives, House moderates, all the different factions, continue to go on. And they actually think they can come to an agreement and then go back to the White House with this.”
“I think they’re still moving in the right direction. It just required a bit more time,” Paul said.