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 PaulA Senator Gary Johnson could be good not just for Libertarians, but for the Senate too Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill 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 GrahamGOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw Kavanaugh: 'I will not be intimidated into withdrawing' MORE (S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyOvernight Health Care: GOP plays defense over pre-existing conditions | Groups furious over new Trump immigration proposal | Public health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Overnight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal 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 "If Obamacare were truly repealed, this entire trillion dollars would not be spent.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 MurkowskiPolice arrest 128 protesting Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill GOP launches counteroffensive on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh protesters descend on Collins, Flake offices on Capitol Hill 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 McCainCongress must use bipartisan oversight as the gold standard The Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward Trump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote MORE (R-Ariz.) is also against the bill, and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRosenstein faces Trump showdown Kavanaugh: I'm asking for a 'fair process' Collins: Second Kavanaugh accuser should speak with Senate panel under oath  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.