Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told MSNBC on Wednesday that President Donald Trump intends to respond to the failure of the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal legislation by taking executive action to enact Paul’s “Associated Health Plans” health care reform proposal.
“I think there’s going to be big news from the White House in the next week or two, as something they can do on their own,” Paul said. “This is something I’ve been advocating for six months and I think it’s bigger than Graham-Cassidy, it’s bigger than any reform that we’ve even talked about to date, but hasn’t got enough attention.”
The Paul proposal permits small businesses and individuals to club together in order to buy insurance at lower prices.
“I believe that President Trump can legalize, on his own, the ability of individuals to join a group, or a health association, across state lines, and buy insurance,” Paul stated. “This would give enormous leverage to bringing down prices and it would also give protection to individuals that feel left out, hung out to dry.”
“If you and your spouse buy insurance by yourselves and if your spouse gets sick, you will be punished by the insurance industry. If these individuals can join large groups across state lines, I think they’ll get protection, less expensive insurance, and really it will solve a lot of the problems we have in the individual market,” Paul continued. “I believe President Trump’s going to do this on his own.”
Paul believes the reform does not require congressional approval, as authority for it already exists in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which permits multi-state corporations to buy insurance across state lines.
“What I’m trying to do is let individuals get into that marketplace, and this would be of enormous benefit,” Paul said.
Paul said he did “not necessarily” think that that an executive order was necessary, instead saying he thinks the administration will do this through an executive “reinterpretation of existing law with a more expansive definition of who can form an association.”
Asked if this is something Paul had discussed with the President, he replied, “on multiple occasions.”
“I’ve spoken with the Secretary of Labor on it, they’re enthusiastic about it,” Paul continued. “I think Graham Cassidy frankly distracted us – the good thing about my proposal is that it costs $0.”
“It is basically legalizing the ability of consumers to collectively come together to bargain for cheaper prices – we need to do this because the insurance companies have all the power,” Paul concluded.
Later that day, Trump suggested to reporters that he would indeed be signing the Paul plan.
“I’ll probably be signing a very major executive order where people can go out, cross state lines, do lots of things and buy their own health care, and that will be probably signed next week,” Trump said. “It’s being finished now. It’s going to cover a lot of territory and a lot of people. Millions of people.”
If the administration does indeed go ahead with Paul’s proposal, it will certainly be a major legislative victory for the Senator from Kentucky, and a testament to his warm rapport with President Trump.