- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Sunday he would support a health care bill that slows down spending growth and gives more flexibility to states, but that he cannot get behind block-granting Obamacare Medicaid expansion money back to the states — a central plank of Republicans’ latest plan.

“If they narrow the focus to the things we all agree on, expanding health savings accounts, giving governors more freedom through waivers, slowing down the rate of growth of an outrageous or out-of-control entitlement spending, sure, I’d be for that,” Mr. Paul said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“But I’m just not for this block-granting concept. Because to me, that is an affirmative vote that I’ve agreed to keep Obamacare,” he said.

“They could remove the block grants from it. And then, we could vote on what we actually all agree on,” he said.

GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana are pushing legislation that would, among other things, take money earmarked for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare and return it to the states.

Mr. Paul said he would vote to block grant the Medicaid program at pre-Obamacare levels, but that the current bill keeps most of the Obamacare spending and just moves the money around.

“I can’t in good conscience vote to keep it, all of the spending. Because once we do, the Republican name will be on health care. And this isn’t going to work. You’re going to end up having Republicans to blame for a terrible health care system,” he said.

Mr. Paul and GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona have publicly expressed their opposition to the bill as it stands now, and GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has said it would be difficult to see a scenario where she’d support it.

Republicans can afford no more than two defections to get the bill through the Senate, assuming no Democrats support it.

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