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Rand Paul and 3 Others Reject Senate GOP Health Plan, Threatening Bill

Rand Paul
Rand Paul

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says he and three other GOP senators oppose the health bill as written, putting passage in jeopardy.

Paul, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., expressed concerns that the measure doesn't go far enough in dismantling Obama's signature health care law.

"Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor," they said in a joint statement said. "There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs."

That news came as Senate Republican leaders released their new plan Thursday to dismantle Obamacare as insurance companies pull out from more states in the unsustainable health care exchanges.

They say their proposal would cut Medicaid, end penalties for people not buying insurance, and erase tax increases that former President Barack Obama imposed.

Also, unlike the House version of the legislation, the Senate plan would do away with waivers allowing states to let insurers hike premiums on some people with pre-existing conditions.    

Moreover, it would provide tax credits based on income, making more funds available to lower-income recipients. Tax credits under the House-approved bill were tied to people's ages, something the Congressional Budget Office said would drive up out-of-pocket costs for many lower earners.

With the Capitol Hill battle over health care ratcheting up, President Donald Trump called Democrats "obstructionists" at an Iowa rally Wednesday.

"If we went and got the single greatest health care plan in the history of the world we would not get one Democrat vote because they're obstructionists. They're obstructionists," he charged.

Senate GOP leaders are hoping to push the measure through the chamber next week.

"We have to act," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. said on the Senate floor, "because Obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class, and American families deserve better than its failing status quo."

This week brought new evidence that the Obamacare insurance markets are collapsing. Competition in many markets has dwindled to one insurer, or none in some cases.

Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem said Wednesday it will leave exchanges in Wisconsin and its home state of Indiana. This comes a few weeks after the nation's second-largest insurer also said it was completely pulling out of Ohio's exchange.

The Associated Press reports early plans filed by many insurers for next year include premium increases well over 20 percent, and Avalere expects more than 40 percent of U.S. counties to have only one insurer selling coverage on the exchange.

Right now, some counties in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and Washington have zero health care options on the Obamacare exchange for next year.

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