Politics & Government

Rand Paul tells gathering that efforts to repeal Obamacare aren’t over

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. 2017 AP file photo

Despite failed Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said it’s not over.

Continuing his search for the best health care options, Paul met Monday morning with community leaders in Elizabethtown to hear their stories and concerns with health care and to make a push for his association health care plan, which would allow Americans to join large groups across state lines for less expensive health insurance.

In addition to local government and community leaders, the crowd at the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce building included several small-business owners. Monday’s meeting was one of many recent visits Paul has made to the area to discuss the Senate health care bill with Kentuckians.

“I am talking to several people who voted no, to see if there is any way they can get to yes,” he said. “We’ll see; maybe there is some way.”

Paul, who has advocated for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, across Kentucky, was denied by three Republicans last week in the GOP’s effort to pass a “skinny repeal” of the act.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against the bill, which needed a simple majority to pass.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky described Friday’s vote as a “disappointing moment.”

Paul said he hasn’t given up.

“We have to get behind the situation differently if we are going to get everybody on board. I don’t think it’s over,” he said. “Part of the problem was Obamacare was all Democrats and no Republicans. Same could be said for the repeal: It’s all Republicans and no Democrats.”

Paul said that if he were to assign blame on the repeal not passing, he would “direct the blame on those who said they would vote to repeal and then didn’t.”

“My disappointment is mostly with those who promised to vote for repeal and then didn’t vote for repeal,” he said.

Paul also said he is looking to use executive orders from Republican President Donald Trump to push his idea of association health care in the wake of the GOP failure.

“I would like to see more coming out of the executive branch,” he said. “He has the power to legalize nationwide insurance. ... I’m going to talk to him about it again this week.”

Paul said the hope is that Trump will use the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a law from the 1970s that governs how private companies provide benefits, to push his national insurance plan forward.

Overall, Paul said, he received good feedback at the small gathering.

“Every time I come to these meetings, I hear good ideas,” he said, including how legislation could expand the Kentucky Health Association through something called “self insurance.”

“Self insurance is an innovation that has kept prices down for people,” Paul said. “I learn something every time. I sense frustration with the current system, and I also sense they want us to get it right.”