Before huddling with members of the House Freedom Caucus Monday, Sen. Rand Paul said he was pushing President Donald Trump on a new construct for the repeal and replacement of the 2010 health care law.
Paul, a Kentucky Republican, suggested a possibility of keeping some subsidies in the 2010 law in place rather than replacing them with a new bundle of tax credits, a move that could keep conservatives from basically voting for new entitlements.
“I think the compromise could be keeping some of the underlying things in Obamacare, some small percentage of them, in order to placate the people who want that, but not affirmatively putting in the bill and saying to conservatives you have to vote for a new federal refundable tax credit, a new entitlement program to many of the conservatives,” Paul said.
“It would be mostly a repeal bill, with the replacement aspect being that you’re leaving some underlying law in place,” Paul said.
That would be a departure from what Paul and the Freedom Caucus have pushed for recently. Earlier in March, Paul and House Freedom Caucus founding member Jim Jordan of Ohio pushed legislation in both chambers that would mirror the repeal bill that Congress passed through the budget reconciliation process in 2015 but that President Barack Obama vetoed.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina endorsed separate votes: One on outright repeal of the 2010 law and a separate vote on a replacement package.
Paul’s latest suggestion opened the door to not repealing key aspects of Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
“To conservatives mind’s, the replacement tax credits have simply been an entitlement program that’s similar to Obamacare subsidies. Well, if there’s $400 billion of new ones in [Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s] plan, why not leave $400 billion of Obamacare in place,” Paul said. “It could be exactly the same dollar amount, but it’s just not in the bill referring to creating something new that conservatives find objectionable.”
Paul said while he came away from a Sunday round of golf with Trump and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney thinking the White House was not yet looking for a new direction.
“I think where they are still trying to make it work with what they have,” Paul said. “With very small tweaks to the existing bill.”
“I think really their opinion is they still want to work with what they have,” Paul said.
Paul stressed he was not only talking to House and Senate conservatives, but also to the moderate Republican bloc that helped sink the bill in the House, including Tuesday Group Co-chairman Charlie Dent, R-Pa.
“We’re also trying to reach out to some other people,” Paul said. “I had a very good conversation with Charlie Dent today, talking what are some, you know, are there common areas?”
“I think there are one of two possibilities on health care,” Paul said. “I think they’re banging a square peg into a round hole right now. And that’s what the bill is — a square peg in a round hole. They either keep banging hard enough that they get the votes for it kind of as is, or we take a new approach,” Paul said.