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Rand Paul pushes GOP to act on Obamacare by unveiling a replacement plan

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) discusses his Obamacare replacement plan on CNN's "State of the Union," Sunday, January 22, 2017. (Image source: CNN)

Responding to a desire by many Republicans to have a plan in place to replace Obamacare immediately after its repeal, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul revealed his vision for what that might look like with The Obamacare Replacement Act (S. 222).

Paul discussed the details of his plan Sunday on CNN's  "State of the Union" and noted his intention to "legalize the sale of individual insurance" within the framework of the plan.

"One of the key reforms that we will do is, we're going to legalize the sale of inexpensive insurance," he said. "That means getting rid of the Obamacare mandates on what you can buy. We are going to help people save through health savings accounts, as well as a tax credit."

According to CNN, the bargaining power allowed to the state and federal exchanges under Obamacare would be replaced under Paul's plan with a provision allowing "individuals and associations like small businesses to create their own markets."

"There's no reason why (a business owner) with four employees shouldn't be able to join with hundreds and hundreds of other businesses that are small to become a large entity to get leverage to bring your prices down," Paul told CNN's Jake Tapper.

The Hill notes that Paul's plan also offers a tax credit of up to $5,000 per person to use toward the establishment of a Health Savings Account, and would do away with Obamacare's mandate requiring health insurance coverage. Paul also seeks to abolish the the minimum standards required for insurance coverage, something Republicans agree would allow for cheaper, though less comprehensive, plans.

The replacement of Obamacare has become something of a mystery, with Democrats arguing that the GOP is behind the curve in finding something suitable to fill the void. Republicans have floated the idea they may try to "repeal and delay," which is to say they may repeal and then spend succeeding months drafting new legislation, drawing criticism from Democrats. The repeal of Obamacare, however, is a much simpler prospect.

Much of that can be handled during the reconciliation process, whereby Republicans in the Senate using a 51 vote majority on parts of the legislation that relate to the budget, such as any that are expenditures or are implemented as taxes. But some provisions — such as the expanded Medicaid program many states accepted as part of Obamacare — would have to be addressed through new legislation or through executive orders that role back enforcement of those provisions.

Paul did not have an immediate answer for what might happen to those provisions of Obamacare that fall outside of the budgetary rubric, such as Medicaid expansion.

"That's the big question," Paul told CNN. "And I don't think that's going to be in the replacement aspect."
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