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Rand Paul says GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill ‘will not pass’
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) speak to the media at a news conference to discuss their Affordable Care Act replacement legislation in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15. Paul told Fox News Tuesday that the House GOP's new health care plan "will not pass." (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Rand Paul says GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill ‘will not pass’

The House Republicans' Obamacare replacement bill is out, but if you ask several conservatives, it's nothing to call home about.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul went on Fox News' "Fox and Friends" Tuesday morning to criticize the American Health Care Act, which was unveiled Monday evening by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Paul argued that the GOP replacement bill is too similar to former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

"This is Obamacare lite. It will not pass. Conservatives aren't gonna take it," Paul said. "Premiums and prices will continue to spiral out of control."

In a joint Fox News op-ed published Monday night with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Paul heavily criticized the GOP replacement bill. One of the lawmakers' chief concerns was the decision "to keep Obamacare-like subsidies to buy insurance but rename them refundable tax credits."

While the new bill repeals the subsidies as they were created in the ACA, it replaces them with monthly refundable tax credits. Those credits — worth between $2,000 and $14,000 per year — could be employed by low- and middle-income families to buy state-certified plans if they don't receive work- or government-sponsored insurance.

Paul argued that repeal and replace should take place separately — not in tandem, as President Donald Trump has proposed.

"We own repeal. We ran on it. It is our idea. We have to pass it cleanly, now," he wrote. "Then we owe the American people a real-old fashioned period of allowing all ideas to be debated and voted on to produce the best product possible."

Paul and Meadows aren't alone in their concerns about the American Health Care Act, either. Several other members of the House Freedom Caucus are not happy with the proposal, which they have dubbed a new "entitlement program," according to Politico.

"This is Obamacare by a different form," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told the outlet. "They’re still keeping the taxes in place and Medicaid expansion, and they’re starting a new entitlement."

And Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), also a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he would vote against the legislation in its current state because it "maintains many of the federal features, including a new entitlement program, as well as most of the insurance regulations."

"Now [they] are saying we're going to do repeal and replace but the bill does nothing of the sort," Brat continued. "Paul Ryan has always said the entire rationale for this bill is to bend the cost curve down, and so far, I have seen no evidence that this bill will bring the cost curve down."

Trump, however, signaled his support for the "wonderful" GOP bill in a tweet Monday night, though he did say it's now "out for review and negotiation."

Democrats immediately criticized the bill. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dubbed the proposal the Republicans' "Make America Sick Again" bill.

"Republicans revealed a Make America Sick Again bill that hands billionaires a massive new tax break while shifting huge costs and burdens onto working families across America," she wrote in a statement.  Republicans will force tens of millions of families to pay more for worse coverage — and push millions of Americans off of health coverage entirely."

All of this kerfuffle over the GOP bill came after Paul went on a hunt last week through Capitol Hill to find the ACA replacement plan, which was being kept out of public view until its unveiling Monday.

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