Four Senate conservatives have voiced opposition to the new GOP Obamacare replacement bill in a joint statement.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released a statement from their senatorial websites on Thursday shortly after the release of the GOP's Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.
“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor," read the statement. "There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”
Paul also took to Twitter and reaffirmed his opposition, but reiterating that he is open to negotiations on the bill.
I will oppose the #healthcarebill coming to the floor in its current form, but I remain open to negotiations.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 22, 2017
In its current form, the new GOP health care bill continues to provide subsidies for Obamacare enrollees, as well as continues the Medicaid expansion funding for another three years. For the four senators, the bill's decision to keep these entitlements does not sit well.
According to NBC News, Paul told reporters that "the idea that we're going to allow the death spiral of Obamacare to continue, but we're going to subsidize it, is just not a very Republican notion."
Reporters asked Paul if this decision to unite the four senators is designed as a ploy to take down the bill, but Paul rejected this notion.
"The intention is not to take down the bill, but to make the bill better," Paul said. "And I believe the leverage on account of four people is enough that hopefully those who wrote the bill will say 'we want some, or all, of their votes, and therefore we'll try to make the bill look more like a repeal bill, and less like a reiteration of Obamacare bill.'"
"As currently drafted, this bill draft does not do nearly enough to lower premiums," Cruz said in a separate statement to reporters. "That should be the central issue for Republicans — repealing Obamacare and making health care more affordable. Because of this, I cannot support it as currently drafted, and I do not believe it has the votes to pass the Senate."
Cruz believes as Paul does that the bill can be improved, however, adding "We can get this done. We can get to 'yes.'"
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is hoping to push a vote on the bill before July 4. In order for the bill to pass, McConnell will need 50 votes, but without Paul, Cruz, Johnson, and Lee this will be nearly impossible to achieve. McConnell will need to turn at least two Democrats to vote in favor of the bill, but this is highly unlikely with Democrats vowing not to support the bill at all.