Guest piece by Philip Haddad
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) had launched on a mission to find a draft of the House GOP’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock and key, in a secure location, and not available for me or the public to view,” he tweeted, and then he went into action.
Paul went to a Capitol meeting room with staff and a photocopier to surprise members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that were rumored to be discussing the ACA.
“In my state, in Kentucky, it’s illegal to do this,” he said, beckoning to a door where he was told there was no bill. “This is being presented as if it were a national secret, as if this were a plot to invade another country.”
Paul held a press conference on the spot and told a dozen or so reporters that “We’re here today because I’d like to read the Obamacare bill. If you’d recall, when Obamacare was passed in 2009 and 2010, Nancy Pelosi said you’ll know what’s in it after you pass it. The Republican Party shouldn’t act in the same way.”
Later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Paul said reports claim, “It keeps the Cadillac tax but renames it. It starts a new entitlement program with refundable tax credits, and it also keeps the individual mandate.”
Paul is concerned that a cloak and dagger routine is being employed to hide parts of the bill that would run counter to many wanting to see the ACA repealed, and he fears this maneuvering may be a ploy to force Senate Republicans into a “take it or leave it” mindset when the legislation gets to them.
Whatever someone’s position is on this issue Paul should be applauded for bringing focus to an important issue, namely healthcare and the backroom deals that too often accompany legislation.
Paul produced a reaction not only from the media, but also from establishment politicians with Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan saying, “…I like Rand, but I think he’s looking for a publicity stunt here”, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger called Paul “the master of theatrics“, and former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi posted a twitter picture with two dogs with the caption “Just helping out @RandPaul. #ReleaseTheHounds #WheresTheBill,”. However, Paul wasn’t alone in his concern as some Democrat members of the House were also going to different rooms on a quest to find the bill and the Washington Post quoted Rep. Thomas Massie as saying “We asked for the score and all that. We were told we’ll have that by the time it gets to the floor. We need to have that now! You can’t have a discussion about this proposal independent from costs. It’s ridiculous. That’s kind of like, just ‘vote for it to see what’s in it.’”
Paul has introduced his own ACA replacement bill allowing people to:
- Choose inexpensive insurance free of government mandates;
- Buy insurance across state lines;
- Save unlimited amounts in a health savings account (HSA) and expanding options for using said funds; and
- Join together in voluntary associations to gain the leverage of being part of a large insurance pool.
It remains to be seen if Paul’s bill will pass but Senators Cruz and Lee are joining with him voicing similar concerns, backing by the House Freedom Caucus, and his tech savvy team continue to capitalize on all of the media attention by creating a Twitter account @randpaulcopier posting pictures of a photo copier with a sign “SHOW ME THE Bill” in front of numerous landmarks in front of the Capital.
It’s tough to disagree with his main message: “This should be an open and transparent process…This should be done openly in the public…”.
Paul continues to be the most interesting person in the Senate and we all are better for him being there!
UPDATE: The GOP’s Obamacare Repeal Bill has finally been released and Paul’s concerns have been vindicated!
American Health Care Act: https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/
Philip lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, son, & two cats: Swirl and Rand Paul. He has worked on political campaigns ranging from his city council run to the presidential level. He is the co-editor of the book “Ron Paul Speak”.