Transcript: Sen. Rand Paul on "Face the Nation," July 16, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday night the Senate will not vote on health care in the absence of Sen. John McCain, who underwent surgery Friday to remove a blood clot from above his left eye and will recover in Arizona, according to the senator's office.

Before the vote was delayed, health care reform remained stalled in the Senate, its fate uncertain. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as well as all the Democrats, have said they will vote against it. 

Paul, who is pushing Senate Republican leaders for a fuller repeal of Obamacare in their health care reform proposal, joined "Face the Nation" on Sunday. 

A transcript of the interview with Paul, which aired July 16, 2017, is below.


JOHN DICKERSON: We want to turn to the other big story this week, the new Senate Republican health care bill. Like the first version, it would repeal the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance and reduce funding for its Medicaid expansion. But the new bill adds $45 billion to tackle the opioid abuse, keeps some Obamacare taxes on the rich, and includes Senator Ted Cruz's proposal to allow insurers to offer a bare bones plan.

Republicans can only lose two votes and still pass the bill. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul says he's a no, and he joins us from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Good morning, Senator. The bill has been delayed because of Senator McCain's surgery on Friday. How will that change the way this goes forward?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know, I think the longer the bill's out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover that it's not repeal. And the more that everybody's going to discover that it keeps the fundamental flaw of Obamacare. It keeps the insurance mandates that cause the prices to rise, which chase young, healthy people out of the marketplace, and leads to what people call adverse selection, where you have a sicker and sicker insurance pool and the premiums keep rising through the roof.

And one of the amazing things to me is, for all the complaints of Republicans about Obamacare, we keep that fundamental flaw. And the reason you know Republicans acknowledge this is they make a giant insurance fund to subsidize those prices. Basically, they're subsidizing the death spiral of Obamacare. So for all Republicans' complaints about the death spiral of Obamacare, they don't fix it, they simply subsidize it with taxpayer monies, which I just don't agree with at all.

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Sen. Rand Paul on "Face the Nation," July 16, 2017.

CBS News

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, and proponents of that insurance idea argue that to transfer from the system they would like, a more free market approach, you need some kind of transition. In this case, you pay insurance companies to take care of those people who are the sickest.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Yeah. Well, insurance companies make about $15 billion in profit every year. I'm not for any taxpayer money going to a company that makes 15, or an industry that makes $15 billion a year. I think it's absolutely wrong. It's not at all consistent with conservative principles, free market principles or being a Republican.

It also has nothing to do with repeal. I mean, we promised the voters for four elections. They elected us to repeal Obamacare. And now we're going to keep most of the taxes, keep the regs, keep the subsidies and create a giant bailout super fund for the insurance companies. I just don't see it.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, Senator Cruz and Lee have supported an amendment that's a part of this. They're conservatives. They see things on many issues the way you do. So why are they so wrong? They thought they'd had a solution.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know, I think they're trying to do what's right. So they're trying to make it legal to sell other insurance policies that don't have the regs. But the problem is it's being done in the context of keeping all of the overall regulatory scheme of Obamacare. So you still have the death spiral, even with their amendment.

Their amendment gives us more freedoms. I'm for their amendment. But in the context of keeping most of the Obamacare regulations, you will still have a death spiral. And that's why even the Cruz amendment, people are saying, "Oh, we need more money in the insurance bail out fund because the Cruz amendment is going to cost us a lot of money, taxpayer money, to try to stabilize the insurance markets." The bottom line is insurance companies, I have no problem with them making a profit. But they need to earn it honestly, by selling people something they want. The taxpayers shouldn't be buying insurance.

JOHN DICKERSON: The reason that we talk about a death spiral is there are a lot of sick people out there and it's not traditionally been the case that insurance companies rush to cover the sickest people first because they're quite expensive. So how do you solve that problem? That's what a lot of these attempts that you don't like are trying to do.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Exactly. And I don't think any of them fix the problem. The death spiral continues. I have a solution and I think it would go a long way towards fixing this. The individual market is a terrible place to be. If you're a plumber and your wife gets breast cancer and you're an insurance pool of two, it's a terrible place to be. I have great sympathy for people who get sick when it's just them and their spouse or their family.

I would let everyone in the individual market join a group plan. How would I do that? I'd let group plans be formed by anybody that wants to form them. Chamber of Commerce, a farm bureau, credit unions, you name it. I'd let anybody form an association. And what would happen is almost everybody would flee the individual market because it's a terrible place.

But you know what would also happen? They would be- The risk would be taken care of out of the profit of the insurance companies because everybody would be in a group plan. Right now, the insurance companies have gamed the system such that they get enormous profit from the group plans. And then they lose money in the individual markets and they whine and they come to Washington. They write the bill and they get bailed out. It's a terrible situation.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the complaint about that is that people will associate with healthier people. Their premiums will be low. The sicker will be stuck in their association of sick people and the premiums will be high. But let me get just a question you-

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well, actually, no. One of the things that is written into the rule is that all comers have to be taken and so there is with what happens is-

JOHN DICKERSON: Isn't that a regulation?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Yeah. Well, the thing is, is, already the rules have been in place for a long time, since the '90s, that group insurance has to basically cover everybody. And it does. So if you work for a company and you get group insurance, they can't exclude you because you're sick. So companies already have had sort of protection against preexisting conditions and protections against being sick.

But what happens, because we base it on employment, the sicker and sicker you get, the less likely you are to be employed. They get pushed into the individual market. And this is a game. The insurance companies love this game. They get all the healthy people and they reap enormous profits. And then if you get sick, you leave employment, you don't have insurance. Then they gouge you, drop you. And then they say, "Oh, no, no, we really want to help people that are sick. But we'll do it if you subsidize our profits." It's, like, they make $15 billion a year in profit. We should not be giving them any taxpayer money.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Senator Rand Paul, we'll have another week at least to make your case. Thank you so much for being with us and we'll be back in one minute--

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Thank you.

JOHN DICKERSON: --with our political panel.