Millennials are understandably worried about the future of the American healthcare system. After a few years under the Affordable Care Act, a lot of us are still on our parent’s health insurance. We don’t have health insurance, or, if we’re lucky, we have a decent paying job that comes with insurance.
So, it doesn’t help when the House Republican’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is a secret. Such a secret that many sitting Senators who want to work on it can’t even see it. Senator Paul might be the only Republican who is up for transparency and was barred by Capitol Police.
Paul has been pushing for his own version of repeal-and-replace. It’s a 149 pages. But, when compared to the Affordable Care Act’s length, it’s much simpler and easier to understand. Sen. Paul’s bill expands health saving accounts, allows insurance companies to sell health insurance across state borders, eliminates the individual mandate, and removing the pre-existing condition requirement. The House Freedom Caucus has backed his plan as well.
The brilliance of Paul’s move is three-fold.
First, it is helping to restore some of the goodwill he has lost from libertarian and libertarian-leaning individuals. His vote for Sessions, and his refusal to support investigations of Russian interference in the government due to party loyalty have damaged his reputation as independent Senator beholden to no party.
His righteous anger over all this secrecy has brought liberals onto his side, even if it is not intended. Paul has allies among liberals like Senators Ron Wyden and Cory Booker. But it brings in new allies. These allies have helped to humiliate the establishment faction, and their love/hate relationship with Paul. Paul retweeted Nancy Pelosi’s joke about the hounds, forcing new pressure on Ryan to do something.
The second part of his act forces the House Republicans explain why they are trying to pass a bill which is may not even be finished. The GOP has campaigned for the last few years on the promise to repeal and replace the ACA. Yet, their bill is still not finished or worse, it is finished and contains elements that will rile up the conservatives who placed them into elected office. It doesn’t help that Trump has been sending conflicting messages. He’s promised to not cut entitlement spending (Medicare and Social Security), but also that healthcare will become much less expensive, much more accessible, and better.
But, perhaps the most brilliant part of Paul’s move is that it places new attention on his bill, which is currently sitting in the Committee of Finance. His bill is finished and is endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus, who have already introduced in the House. While Ryan and company are keeping their bill under literal lock and key, Paul’s bill has been on congress.gov for a month and a half with no cosponsors. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, his usual conservative allies haven’t introduced anything, though they did help Paul with their statements on the GOP’s main plan currently in the House.
In the end, Paul’s move may end up backfiring. But, his brand of theatrics have also brought attention and debate on what needs to be debated. It echoes of his filibusters in which he defended civil liberties such as the right to privacy, along with his lawsuits against the NSA and the IRS. In addition, it may force Ryan to look to him to try and rally the libertarian-conservative faction who have dogged the Speaker ever since he took the position.
So kudos to Paul. Let’s hope it kicks the repeal and replace ACA debate back on track.