Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul wrote a blistering op-ed Wednesday that excoriated the GOP health care bill meant to replace the Affordable Care Act and said the new legislation does not repeal Obamacare at all.
Paul's opposition to the bill began the moment it was made available from GOP leadership for him to read. He was joined in his public objection by GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), and Ted Cruz (Texas). While both Paul and Cruz believed that a compromise on the bill's contents could be reached, no changes have been satisfactory enough to sway the dissenting senators.
In the op-ed, which was cross-posted on Paul's official Senate website, the senator began by blasting the GOP for turning away from its promise to repeal Obamacare, instead saying Republicans are "falling all over themselves to stuff hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into a bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare and feeds Big Insurance a huge bailout."
Citing the GOP's inclusion of an multibillion-dollar insurance bailout fund to help stabilize the markets when premiums inevitably rise, Paul wrote: "Now, the Senate GOP plan being put forward is chock full of insurance bailout money – to the tune of nearly $200 billion. Republicans, present company excluded, now support the idea of lowering your insurance premium by giving a subsidy to the insurance company."
Paul said that the GOP has added billions of dollars for various subsidies that Democrats originally didn't fund, potentially making the GOP repeal bill — which Paul calls "Obamacare-lite" — worse than Obamacare itself.
The Senate Obamacare-lite bill does what the Democrats forgot to do — appropriate billions for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, aka subsidies. Really? Republicans are going to fund Obamacare subsidies that the Democrats forgot to fund?
Doesn’t sound much like repeal to me. One might even argue it’s worse than Obamacare-lite because it actually creates a giant superfund to bail out the insurance companies — something even the Democrats feared to do.
While Paul lambasted what the bill does do, he also slammed the GOP bill for what it doesn't do, but should first and foremost.
"The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote 'no' as it stands now," Paul wrote. "The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close."
Paul noted that the GOP won in four elections, and each time the GOP said that in order to repeal Obamacare it would need to control all three branches of the government. He lamented that now that the GOP is in majority control, it comes up short.
"And ... the best that is offered is Obamacare-lite: keeping the Obamacare subsidies, keeping some of the Obamacare taxes, creating a giant insurance bailout superfund, and keeping most of the Obamacare regulations," he continued.
"Shame," Paul added. "Shame on many in the GOP for promising repeal and instead affirming, keeping, and, in some cases, expanding Obamacare. What a shame."
While Paul highly disapproved of the GOP health care bill, his fellow Republicans believe that the bill is dead in the water anyway. GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), and Bill Cassidy (La.) have expressed their belief that the bill will fail.
In a last-ditch effort to pass the bill, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that the Senate's August would start two weeks late to buy more time to convince wayward Republicans.
The effort may prove fruitless, however. Aside from the four Republican senators that initially rejected the bill, Republican moderates like Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), and Dean Heller (Nev.) have also abandoned the bill.
As Democrats have vowed not to vote for the GOP bill at all, the absence of any three Republicans from a "yes" vote will crash the bill.