- The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Tuesday he will support a pivotal motion to debate a GOP health care bill, after party leaders signaled they will give “clean repeal” of Obamacare top billing and consider a more limited repeal if they cannot muster the votes for a bigger plan.

“If that is the plan, I will vote to proceed to have this vote,” tweeted Mr. Paul, a Kentucky Republican who opposes a separate GOP plan to replace Obamacare with a new set of tax credits and “stabilization” funding for insurers.

Leaders also have floated a “skinny repeal” plan to scrap Obamacare’s mandate requiring individuals to hold insurance, a separate rule requiring large employers to provide coverage and a tax on medical device sales if they cannot replicate a 2015 repeal effort that would have scrapped Obamacare within two years, buying time for a replacement. Then-President Obama vetoed that effort, though President Trump would sign it.

“If we cannot pass full, clean 2015 repeal, I’ve also been told we will vote on whatever version of CLEAN repeal we can pass,” Mr. Paul said.

The idea is to rally around something that Republicans can agree on and then move to a conference with House lawmakers, who passed a replacement bill in May.

Scrapping key parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act without other reforms will unnerve insurers, since they would still have to accept sicker customers without the mandate designed to prod healthier people into the marketplace by forcing them to get insured or pay a tax.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to hold Tuesday’s procedural vote to take up a House-passed bill after what promises to be a spirited GOP lunch behind closed doors.

A successful vote would pave the way for a free-wheeling floor fight, where senators will be free to offer their own plans and consider the evolving replacement bill that Mr. McConnell crafted in recent weeks.

“Seven years after Obamacare was imposed on our country, we will vote on the critical first step to finally move beyond its failures. Many of us have made commitments to our constituents to provide relief from this failed left-wing experiment. And now, we have a real opportunity to keep those commitments by voting to begin debate and, ultimately, to send smarter health care solutions to the president’s desk for his signature,” Mr. McConnell said.

Mr. Trump said he is counting on Republicans to start debate and deliver a repeal plan to his desk.

“The American people have waited long enough. There has been enough talk and no action for seven years. Now is the time for action!” he tweeted.

It’s still unclear if any of the GOP’s repeal ideas get enough GOP votes to pass in the end, even though Republicans are using fast-track budget rules to avoid a Democratic filibuster

Several GOP moderates, however, are worried about reining in Medicaid or creating market uncertainty under the plans on offer.

Those senators, who include Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio, haven’t announced how they will vote.

Democrats implored skeptical Republicans to buck GOP leaders during Tuesday’s motion to proceed onto the bill, saying any results plan would result in deep cuts to Medicaid and increase the ranks of uninsured.

“Don’t be fooled by this ruse,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said.

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