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Sanford, Paul roll out Obamacare replacement plan with support from Freedom Caucus

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation Wednesday afternoon to replace Obamacare.

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation Wednesday afternoon to replace Obamacare.

The plan already has the backing of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republican members of Congress, which could mean more pressure on party leadership in the House and Senate to move forward with a replacement plan as they work on repealing former President Barack Obama's flagship healthcare legislation.

Sanford is a member of the caucus.

It's called the Obamacare Replacement Act, and is described by Ryan as a bill that builds consensus between other replacement bills that have been floated by lawmakers.

"You think about this notion of advancing the hallmark of the American experiment. It’s individual freedom, and one of the places that we don’t have that right now is on healthcare," Sanford said.

"If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. You look at the energy that’s been in some of these town hall meetings. It’s tied to when you think about this debate, there’s nothing more personal and more vital, and in some cases more life and death than one’s healthcare. It is a big deal."

Sanford says part of the problem with healthcare in the U.S. is the way it's tied to employment.

"How do you create a vibrant marketplace so that we have real choices out there? I think that there are a couple things that stand out. One is severing employment from health insurance. Is your home insurance tied to your job? Is your car insurance tied to your job? It’s not, and yet with employment, we have it tied to healthcare, simply because of an anomaly of history," he said.

The Sanford and Paul plan deviates from other Republican plans to replace Obamacare, something that could lead to floor fights if the plan moves forward.

For example, the Sanford-Paul plan doesn't include a refundable tax credit, something other lawmakers argue is an important addition to any replacement plan. Instead, the Sanford-Paul plan focuses much of its energy on expanding health savings accounts to allow people to contribute an unlimited amount of money into each year.

Currently, the Affordable Care Act caps HSA contributions at $3,400 annually for an individual and $6,750 for a family, but allows a sizeable tax credit for people who pay into an HSA.

It's about control, says Sanford.

"How do we put the consumer back in charge and in control of what comes next? I think this bill like no other empowers the consumer, and creates a marketplace. If we had to boil down the whole bill, that’s fundamentally what each one of its line items are about," Sanford said.

Paul says one of the cornerstones of the plan is in allowing individuals and small businesses to band together to leverage better insurance rates from providers. The plan also allows insurers to sell across state lines.

"We owe this to the conservatives around the country who elected us to repeal, to completely repeal Obamacare, but I think if you’re going to completely repeal something, you should replace it," Paul said. "We’re concerned with how to provide the most amount of insurance at the least amount of cost, and that’s what our replacement bill does."

A key component of the Affordable Care Act is the protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Paul and Sanford say their plan maintains that coverage as long as the consumer does not have a lapse in insurance.

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