01:30 - Source: CNN
Rand Paul on GOP bill: Start small and build

Story highlights

President Donald Trump called Sen. Rand Paul a "negative force"

The Kentucky Republican said he plans to work with the President

Washington CNN —  

President Donald Trump slammed Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday over the Kentucky senator’s open opposition to Republicans’ health care plans, though the Kentucky Republican said he’s working with Trump to come up with a better proposal.

“Rand Paul is a friend of mine but he is such a negative force when it comes to fixing healthcare. Graham-Cassidy Bill is GREAT! Ends Ocare!” Trump tweeted early Wednesday.

He added: “I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!”

Paul responded to Trump several minutes later: “#GrahamCassidy is amnesty for Obamacare. It keeps it, it does not repeal it. I will keep working with the President for real repeal.”

He continued: “Also currently working with the President to finalize better replacement with cross state purchase of inexpensive insurance. Coming soon!”

A GOP aide told CNN both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have contacted Paul this week.

The aide argued that’s not unusual because “they chat several times every week.” The aide wouldn’t go into detail of what Trump said on the call.

The Graham-Cassidy bill currently being pushed in the Senate would repeal the individual and employer mandates as well as shift Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion funding and insurance subsidy structure into a block grant program for states.

Health care state of play: Republicans work behind closed doors to advance Graham-Cassidy

On Tuesday, Paul denounced the Graham-Cassidy bill as an Obamacare 2.0 that happens to give more power to states.

“This isn’t a repeal. This is keeping Obamacare and redistributing the proceeds,” Paul told Fox News. “So, this is not a repeal bill, this is sort of, ‘Hey, we’ll take Obamacare, replace it with Obamacare, but we’re going to let the states have a little more power in how we spend it.’”

Paul said he would support a partial repeal bill – as he did with the “skinny bill” that was voted on earlier this summer and failed to pass – but argued that the Graham-Cassidy bill is not that.

“The Graham-Cassidy bill basically immortalizes Obamacare, keeps Obamacare spending, keeps the taxes and all it does is reshuffle the proceeds from Democratic states,” he said.

CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.