- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Wednesday a revised version of the Senate GOP bill appears to leave more of Obamacare in place instead of paring it back further, leaving him no choice but to reject it unless there are dramatic changes.

GOP leaders are scheduled to release the latest iteration of their bill Thursday. They cannot afford to lose more than two Republican votes and still pass a plan without Democrats, yet Mr. Paul says he’s already a “no.”

“At this point, I cannot support the bill,” he said.

Mr. Paul said the new version, teased during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, looks a lot like the old bill but would retain some of its taxes on higher earners so that Republicans can spread that money around elsewhere on benefits and stabilize the insurance markets.

He said GOP lawmakers should have been figuring out what else they can eliminate from the model set up by the 2010 Affordable Care, rather than deciding what to keep.

“I don’t see anything in here really remotely resembling repeal,” Mr. Paul said.

He also said talk of bipartisan efforts to bolster the markets likely won’t bear fruit, since Democrats have been unwilling to cut taxes and regulation, instead offering solution that expand the federal footprint in health care.

“They want to go toward socialism, and we want to go toward free markets, free choice and capitalism,” Mr. Paul said.

As it stands, Senate Republican leaders plan to push ahead with their bill and begin voting next week.

They’re hoping an idea by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to split the insurance market into plans that comply with Obamacare and cheaper ones that don’t will get a good evaluation from budget analysts and bring on conservatives.

Mr. Paul said Mr. Cruz’s proposal is good in spirit but that he expects GOP leaders to try and limit the amount that insurers can charge certain customers relative to others, an idea that is “foreign to any notion of capitalism or free market.”

Analysts say consumers could be forced to pay a lot more for robust coverage under the Cruz plan, forcing the government to post more money for subsidies and to stabilize the markets

“It’s going to mean a lot more money in the insurer-bailout fund,” Mr. Paul said.

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