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Rand Paul: I Will Not Vote for 'Obamacare Lite'

Senator Rand Paul is still waiting to see an official copy of the GOP Obamacare replacement bill and says he will not vote for “Obamacare lite.”

“I want a free-market replacement with more power going back to the individuals,” he told Fox News on Sunday. “Some Republicans want to keep parts of Obamacare, and I’m not going to vote for that.”

Paul tore into his colleagues last week when a draft of the bill was released to a media outlet before senators had seen it. “This should be done openly and in public,” he said at the time. “Conservatives who don’t want Obamacare lite should be allowed to see the bill.”

The senator said the GOP replacement bill was being treated as if it were some kind of national secret. “That’s wrong,” he said.

Paul’s doubling down, saying he refuses to vote for a bill that is not a true free-market replacement. The bill that’s coming out of the House, he says, falls short of that goal.

It includes new taxes on health insurance. It includes an individual mandate. Instead of paying the penalty to the government, you’ll have to pay a penalty to the insurance company. It also includes a new entitlement. This new entitlement may be bigger than the Obamacare subsidies. That needs to be debated because many conservatives in the House and Senate were not excited about Obamacare Lite. We want to repeal it.

“I will not settle,” Paul said in a statement, “and I will not stand idly by while the American people are kept in the dark. I will continue to speak out for full repeal.”

The senator might have an uphill battle to make that happen, not only among his colleagues, but the American people. According to recent polls, most Americans are opposed to a “full repeal” of Obamacare. A McClatchy-Marist poll found that 67 percent of those polled don’t want full repeal. According to Rasmussen, most Americans (56 percent) want Congress to make improvements to the law, not repeal it entirely. Only 30 percent of likely voters think Congress should repeal the entire health care law and start over. That’s down from a high of 40 percent in November.

Paul recognizes this divide in the country, which is why he says there needs to be repeal and replacement at the same time, though not necessarily in the same bill. “Republicans are united about repeal,” he says, “but we’re not united about replacement.”

Like other conservatives in Congress, Paul wants to make the case to the American people that there is a better, free-market way to get what they want. They don’t need to keep parts of Obamacare to ensure lower costs and coverage of pre-existing conditions. There are solutions independent of government intrusion. To that end, Paul has proposed his own bill that will get government out of the way and make healthcare affordable.