U.S. Sen. Rand Paul predicted Monday that the Republican health care proposal will fail in the U.S. House this week, clearing the way for “real negotiations” to begin.
Paul, R-Bowling Green, spoke to the St. Matthews Chamber of Commerce several hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to tout the GOP plan to replace Obamacare Monday night in nearby Freedom Hall.
Paul said he would not attend Trump’s rally, which is his first visit to Kentucky as president.
“I have work to do in Washington,” Paul told reporters. In contrast, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scheduled to welcome the president to Louisville.
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Paul has been at the forefront of opposition to the House GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, calling the proposal “Obamacare lite.”
The major problem with the House plan, Paul said, is its continued reliance on an individual insurance market.
He said President Barack Obama tried to fix the individual insurance market by mandating insurance coverage, but not enough young people bought insurance.
“I want it gone,” Paul said of the individual market.
In its place, Paul envisions a network of associations that individuals could join to get insurance coverage.
“I would legalize the ability for you to join an association,” Paul said, noting that the St. Matthews Chamber of Commerce has an association health plan.
“I would like to legalize that you could join with other chambers, national chambers and have an insurance association,” he said, predicting more people would have insurance at lower costs.
Paul also advocated more use of health savings accounts, arguing they would also help lower costs.
An audience member asked Paul if he would want to keep the popular provision in the Affordable Care Act that says people with pre-existing health conditions could not be denied health insurance. The GOP health plan contains the same protection.
Paul responded by saying that joining an insurance group would take care of the problem. If a person does not do that, he said, Medicaid could be a back-up.
“It’s capitalism that will bring down health care costs,” he said.
When asked if the expansion of Medicaid under the federal health law should remain, Paul said the decision should be left up to voters on the state level.