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Paul: We probably can't get rid of 'Obamacare'

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Sept. 18, 2013: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine reevaluating the effectiveness of Federal mandatory minimum sentences, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP2013)

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said Saturday that President Barack Obama's healthcare law is unlikely to be repealed or defunded and suggested that there were few options and not much time left for his fellow congressional Republicans to halt the law's full implementation. 

Speaking to reporters at a gathering of Michigan Republicans, Paul, a hot prospect for a presidential campaign in 2016, said Republicans in Congress could use votes on measures in the House and in the Senate to come up with compromise legislation that could make the law more palatable. Some provisions, Paul said, include removing caps on health savings account contributions or deductibles for health policies.

But the Kentucky Republican said time for that is running out before Oct. 1, the start of the 2014 fiscal year and the date that state insurance exchanges begin.

Paul said Republicans still expect members to fight the law, which national polls show only about a third of Americans support.

"I'm acknowledging we can't probably defeat or get rid of Obamacare," he said. "But by starting with our position of not funding it, maybe we get to a position where we make it less bad."

Some Senate Republicans, including would-be 2016 presidential rivals Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, have said they would vote to refuse to pay for the health care law, even if it meant shutting down portions of the government. Paul has called closing down the government "a dumb idea."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.