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Paul outlines demands for yes vote on Graham-Cassidy bill

Paul outlines demands for yes vote on Graham-Cassidy bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (R-Ky.) is outlining a list of demands to win his support for the GOP's latest ObamaCare replacement bill that would require major changes to the legislation.

Paul's primary demand, according to his office, is to substantially reduce the central component of the bill sponsored by GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller Rand Paul under pressure as Pompeo hunts for votes Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyRepublicans have a long way to go toward fully repealing ObamaCare Senators press administration on mental health parity Longer sentences won’t stop the opioid epidemic MORE (La.): block grants to states with money to spend on health care.

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"Graham/Cassidy keeps and redistributes/spends over a trillion dollars," Paul says in a document provided by his office.

"My promise to the voters was to repeal Obamacare - not block grant and keep Obamacare," he adds. "If Obamacare were truly repealed, this entire trillion dollars would not be spent. This is the primary obstacle to my support, and only a significant reassessment of this trillion-dollar spending regime would get my support."

A "significant reassessment" of the spending, though, is likely to cost the GOP other votes, most notably Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (R-Alaska), who is already focused on whether the bill does enough to help people afford coverage.

Finding some way to win Paul's vote, however unlikely, is crucial for GOP leaders, given that they can only lose two votes. Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (R-Ariz.) is also against the bill, and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign Trump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush MORE (R-Maine) said Sunday that it's "very difficult" for her to imagine supporting the measure.

Paul, who has repeatedly bashed the bill in television interviews and on Twitter, also wants states to have even more freedom to repeal ObamaCare regulations. The "default," he says, should be that all its regulations are repealed, and states can opt in to keep some regulations if they choose.

Further action to repeal those regulations is politically fraught, though, given that they include protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Finally, Paul wants both executive action from the Trump administration and committee time to consider legislative action on a favored cause of his, known as Association Health Plans, which allow businesses and individuals to band together to buy health insurance as a group.