Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), whose “no” vote was among the GOP dissent that kept the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace Obamacare from coming to the floor for a vote this week, predicted today that there are executive actions in the works to alter the Affordable Care Act.
“I think there is going to be big news from the White House in the next week or two of something they can do on their own. This is something I’ve been advocating for six months. I think it’s bigger than Graham-Cassidy, it’s bigger than any reform we’ve even talked about to date but hasn’t gotten enough attention,” Paul told MSNBC this morning.
“I believe that President Trump can legalize, on his own, the ability of individuals to join a group or a health association across state lines and buy insurance,” he added. “This would give enormous leverage to bringing down prices. It would also give protection to individuals that feel left out, you know, hung out to dry, basically.”
“If you and your spouse buy insurance by yourself and if your spouse gets sick, you’ll be punished by the insurance industry. If these individuals can join large groups across state lines, I think they’ll get protection, less expensive insurance and really it will solve a lot of the problems we have in the individual market. I think President Trump is going to do this on his own.”
Trump was hammering Paul to vote “yes” on Graham-Cassidy, in which Republicans were trying to push through Obamacare repeal on a simply majority vote using budget reconciliation before the end of the month.
“Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare,'” Trump tweeted Friday.
“No one is more opposed to Obamacare than I am, and I’ve voted multiple times for repeal. The current bill isn’t repeal,” Paul retorted about an hour later. “I won’t vote for Obamacare Lite that keeps 90% of the taxes & spending just so some people can claim credit for something that didn’t happen.”
“Calling a bill that KEEPS most of Obamacare ‘repeal’ doesn’t make it true. That’s what the swamp does. I won’t be bribed or bullied,” Paul added.
“I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!” Trump tweeted Saturday, before the bill’s demise.
Paul said he’s talked to Trump “multiple times” about going around Congress, and said the president is “enthusiastic” about the senator’s particular idea.
“There was a law passed in the 1970s called the ERISA law. It already allows corporations — if my corporation is in 20 different states, I already can buy insurance across state lines. It’s called large group ERISA. It’s a self-insured type of insurance but it’s the insurance people liked the most and it’s had the least rise in premiums,” he said. “It’s about 36 percent of the market. It already exists. What I’m trying to do is let individuals get into that marketplace. And this would be an enormous benefit. And it’s not necessarily an executive order. I think it will be a reinterpretation of existing law with a more expansive definition of who can form an association.”
“The good thing about my proposal, it costs zero dollars. I don’t think people on the left are going to hate it. It basically is legalizing the ability of consumers to collectively come together, to bargain for cheaper prices. We need to do this because the insurance companies have all the power. If you watched any of the debate recently over this, both left and right think insurance companies have too much power.”
That leaves room, the senator said, to return to regular order on healthcare hearings and deals and debates.
“And I think there is some ideas, like my idea of health associations, that we could actually pass laws to expand the definition as well,” Paul said. “And I think there could be bipartisan support for that, because mine doesn’t necessarily displace the current system; mine allows people an exit ramp, to get out of the individual market, to get into group market and get cheaper insurance.”