Politics

Sen. Rand Paul said he still opposes the GOP’s most recent attempt to repeal elements of the Affordable Care Act, despite changes to the legislation over the weekend.

Paul is one of two Republican senators who came out against an earlier version of the Graham-Cassidy bill, which was tweaked over the weekend to send more Medicaid dollars to states whose senators have voiced opposition to the measure.

At an event in Louisville Monday, Paul called those last-minute changes “suspicious” and said the bill still doesn’t do enough to do away with Obamacare spending.

“I don’t know that we’ve fundamentally changed anything other than we’re re-shuffling who gets the money and that’s going to make some people happy and embitter other people,” Paul said.

The bill would overhaul the Affordable Care Act by lumping Medicaid dollars into block grants that would be redistributed to states.

Paul said he’s against block-granting Medicaid funds, saying that it would “immortalize” spending on the program.

“The spending will go on and on and on and I don’t think anybody’s taking into account for what that does to the deficit,” he said.

Republicans can only afford to lose two votes in order to pass the bill before a deadline on September 30.

Over the weekend, the bill was revised to send more Medicaid dollars to Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky and Maine — the homes of senators who have voiced opposition to the legislation.

But Paul’s opposition lies in the bill’s continuation of taxes and spending imposed by Obamacare.

“All we’re doing is shifting the money but basically keeping the system,” Paul said on Monday.

Paul’s stance is at odds with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has pushed hard to unite the Senate’s 52 Republicans behind a measure that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

But moderate Republicans worried about lost health coverage and conservatives who say the bill doesn’t go far enough to repeal President Obama’s signature policy have made consensus difficult to achieve.

More than 500,000 Kentuckians got health coverage under the Affordable Care Act — about 460,000 through the expansion of Medicaid and another 85,000 through health insurance exchanges.

Kentucky has a population of 4.4 million.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.