Interviews

Paul: GOP health care bill must to more to repeal ObamaCare

Republican senator from Kentucky says he told President Trump that he's open to supporting the Senate health care reform effort if changes are made to the bill

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, now to Rand Paul.

He was meeting alone with the president. So, he is not part of this group that is meeting in group with the president right now.

He joins us his first chat since that one-on-one.

Senator, good to have you.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY: Thank you.

CAVUTO: What came of your meeting?

PAUL: You know, I think we had a good discussion.

And I told the president that I am open to supporting it, but it has to get better, and it has to be more of a repeal bill. We keep too many of the ObamaCare regulations. We keep too many of the ObamaCare subsidies. And we create a new federal fund to subsidize insurance companies.

So we have got to look at all of that, and we have to ask the people who elected us on repealing ObamaCare if this bill is really repeal.

But I thought the president was very open-minded towards trying to make the bill a better bill. And I get along very well at the president. I think I can work with him.

But everybody has got to be open to letting the bill become more of a repeal bill and less of a big government bill.

CAVUTO: Did the president agree with that sentiment, that it should be more of a repeal effort?

PAUL: Yes, I think he and I see eye to eye.

I don't want to characterize exactly what he is for or against. But he is a guy who comes from business. He understands that regulations drive up prices and that the main thing that has driven ObamaCare prices up for health insurance is all the mandates.

Every one of them cost extra money, and then we have priced the young, healthy people out. And we get the death spiral of ObamaCare. But I think he also feels the pressure to try to get something done. So, that is what really the way it's being tugged back and forth.

But I think we had to follow the promises we made, and that is to repeal it. And right now, the bill is not a repeal bill.

CAVUTO: All right, did the president -- sorry to push you in any direction or say, all right, we will never get this perfect, but we can get start, we will never get it to your way?

PAUL: I think I have a very good rapport with the president. I enjoy his company. I like being around him.

And I think he is honest with me that he will be open to how we try to make the bill better. And he listened to it. We had policy people there. We went back and forth on policy.

But I did not get strong objections from him or any conservatives really. Most the things I have been promoting are conservative ideas that had been out there for a long time, letting people buy insurance as part of a buying co-op, having less regulations on insurance.

Most Republicans in the land believe in that. I think somehow, as it got up here and it got debated and debated and debated, we discovered some Republican legislators actually like ObamaCare or like parts of it, and they want to keep it.

But that's not really the sentiment if you get home and you ask Republicans at home. They don't want to keep any of the ObamaCare regulations, and much less keeping 10 out of 12.

CAVUTO: You will never get all of what you want. You have heard this analogy, that if you get most, then you're off to the races.

Was there any sort of alarm in the president's tone or demeanor with you that time was running out?

PAUL: I thought the president was very open-minded and very forthright that what can we do to make this bill a better bill and let's try to pass it.

CAVUTO: So, he wasn't angry at you, Senator?

PAUL: How could he be angry with me?

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: I'm one of the president's best supporters on Capitol Hill.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: All right. All right, so there was no sort of like, you have a very well-reasoned argument against this measure that leadership has cooked up, but you're killing me, none of that?

PAUL: No.

I think it is not me vs. the president. It's not us vs. the establishment. I think what it is, is, we have to get something that really works, because what I did tell him is, look,, I have been a doctor for 20-some-odd years. And I saw health care before ObamaCare not working very well.

I saw ObamaCare come on and make it work even less well. I think there are some fundamental aspects to health care we have to try to fix. And if we don't fix them, but we gain ownership of it, I think there's a big price to pay for saying, oh, we have fixed it, when, in reality, if you leave the regulations in place, you do not fix it.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But whose fault is that, sir?

The reason why I mentioned it, I showed the tweet when you got out of the White House. You had said: President Trump is open to making the bill better. Is Senate leadership?"

Do you have your doubts whether Mitch McConnell is?

PAUL: Well, I have been out there for about five days with four other senators publicly saying that we can't -- oppose the bill, but we haven't had any feedback from leadership on they're being open to changing any parts of the bill.

So, in order for there to be negotiation, there has to be dialogue.

CAVUTO: But is there something that I'm missing in your relationship with Mitch McConnell, or...

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Well, we formalized our recommendations for the bill this afternoon. We have put them in writing.

And we are going to send them to the Senate leadership, as well as the president. And I think maybe that formal process may get it a little bit more off the ground.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Did Mitch McConnell know, Senator Paul, that you were meeting with the president today? Did you give him a heads-up? Or did you feel the need to?

PAUL: Well, I haven't seen many people this week because I haven't -- we haven't had as many meetings this week as other weeks.

CAVUTO: Right.

PAUL: But I would say that, yes, it's common knowledge, and we were not keeping it secret that I was meeting with the president.

I think this thing still could be done, but we have to keep our promise to the Republican voters, as well as to all voters that we were going to repeal the disaster that is ObamaCare.

But in order to get rid of the high prices of ObamaCare, you have to repeal the regulations. And if we tinker around the edge, with one or two regulations, the prices won't come down, and guess who they're going to blame? The Republicans.

So, we have got to fix it. We have got to really repeal it.

CAVUTO: There is an effort by one group, I guess some call them a Trump surrogate group, that is targeting Nevada Senator Dean Heller for being against this measure.

Now, he was more vocal and blunt in his criticism of what the Senate had come up with, but that some want to see him primaried, in other words, face a primary challenge.

Are you worried, since others are considering the same for you and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, that you are going to be targeted for your opposition?

PAUL: No, I feel very comfortable that I was elected by people who knew I was for repealing ObamaCare and that I was for replacing it with freedom, freedom to buy inexpensive insurance, freedom to buy any kind of insurance you want, and also for trying to give people new possibilities, thinking outside the box, to try to figure out how we can get less expensive insurance for people.

And I have been very frank about that when I ran for office. I have run for office twice. And not everybody probably agrees with my approach, but I think they know that I am honestly trying to find a solution to get lower prices.

CAVUTO: Senator, the reason why I mention this is there was a great deal of vitriol in talking to people like Katrina Pierson who supports this effort to go after particularly Dean Heller of Nevada for opposing the Republican plan.

I want you to just react to this. This was from FOX Business Network yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: How can you do that under the threat of, we're going to primary you if you don't go along with what we say? That sounds like a bad Tony Soprano episode.

KATRINA PIERSON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Well, actually, it's just an accountability issue.

CAVUTO: Well, then you ought to have accountability for all these others. And you don't.

PIERSON: Oh, and we do. And we absolutely will. This is just the beginning.

CAVUTO: No, you have accountability for him.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Do the same with Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski?

(CROSSTALK)

PIERSON: We are going to do the same for any senator or any House member that does not move forward on the policies that many of Americans wanted to put first in November.

CAVUTO: Well, what is moving forward to you, Katrina?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right, I think you get the gist of that.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But what I guess groups like hers are saying, tread carefully.
What do you say?

PAUL: I think right at this point, Senator McConnell put this forward as a dialogue, as a draft.

And so I think, really, we still should be in the dialogue stage. And that means interacting, no matter you're coming from the moderate side or the conservative side. I think we interact, and we try to see if there is a sweet spot that we can find.

But I think it is important that some of us stand firm now, because if you don't stand firm now and you say, oh, we will vote on an amendment, it's not changing. This is what we will have.

Now is the time to change the bill. And I think by my steadfastness in being for repeal, I think I can get this bill to look more like repeal before it goes through.

CAVUTO: At the top of the hour, Senator, we're going to be hearing from Nancy Pelosi and House top Democrats, following up no doubt on what Chuck Schumer had said, that Republicans are concocting something that is going to harm people.

She went, that is, Nancy Pelosi, so far as to say hundreds of thousands of people are going to die. Al Franken, thousands will die. Bernie Sanders, thousands will die.

Now, I am not a doctor. You are. Where do they get that?

PAUL: Well, it is absolutely false. I would say it's ignorance, hyperbole.

And I think it's such hyperbole, so outlandish, that most commonsense Americans will say, what in the world are they talking about? Are they really serious?

See, look, we can have different opinions in our country, but President Obama, I thought, was trying to do the best work for people. He really did try to help get more people health care. It didn't work.

But I don't think he was trying to kill people. Likewise, Republicans, we're trying to do the same thing President Obama was, more health insurance for people at a cheaper price, but none of us is going to allow people to die in the streets.

I took an oath, the Hippocratic Oath. In fact, when I worked in a hospital, I can only work in the hospital if I see all comers. That's part of the arrangement for the privilege. They call it privileges in a hospital. It's a privilege for me to work in a hospital.

I agree to treat all comers. So, when they say things like that, I think they destroy their own argument with such excessive, outlandish comments.

CAVUTO: Senator, the markets fell today when it looked like this was going to be delayed past the July 4 holiday. They continued falling as it looked increasingly so that it was going to be delayed.

Does that worry you? Do you think that if this is significantly delayed, the entire Republican agenda is in trouble?

PAUL: I think it's more about getting it right.

I think if we pass something in a hurry just to be done with it, one of my friends up here put out, it's like a kidney stone. You just got to pass it. We have got to get rid of it. We got to pass it.

It should not be a kidney stone. This should be something that we are really trying to do what's right. And once you own health care, you're going to own it for a long time.

So, we should make sure that we actually get it right. I don't think we're stopping anything. I know Wall Street's concerned about the tax cuts, and there's a lot of tax cuts in ObamaCare. I'm for the tax cuts, but I also want to make sure that health care gets better, and then we get -- in the fall, I think we will get to more tax cuts.

It's going to be a good year for business, and for people who have jobs and who are employed, because we're going to create a lot more jobs when we actually get to cutting taxes.

CAVUTO: Well, I hope you're right about the kidney stone thing. But having had that, I would sooner rather than later get rid of the darn thing.

But do you think then the timeline to get this and tax cuts done this year is still doable? What does Rand Paul think?

PAUL: The July 4 thing was probably a little premature, but I know we have to have deadlines to get people moving.

I think August 1 will be a delay. I think it is going to have to get done in the next three weeks, but then I think, all along, people have thought we will get to tax cuts I hope in the fall.

And we have two or three months in the fall. I think we can get to it and get it done in the fall.

CAVUTO: And do you think those tax cuts should be retroactive to the beginning of the year?

PAUL: I am always for the more the better, because it's returning people's honestly earned money to the people who honestly earned it.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator Rand Paul, thank you very much.

PAUL: Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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