Collins ‘leaning against’ GOP plan despite LePage pressure

September 22, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Friday she’s “leaning against” a new Republican proposal to eliminate the Affordable Care Act but is waiting on an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office before making a final decision.

The Maine Republican, who represents a critical vote on the legislation, listed several deficiencies she sees in the proposal by Sens. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. She said her concerns include cuts to Medicaid and the impact on rural hospitals and premium costs.

“I’m leaning against the bill,” she said during a housing policy conference in Portland.

Republican President Donald Trump tweeted earlier Friday that lawmakers who vote against the proposal will “forever ... be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.’”

When asked about the president’s tweet, Collins said she wants to fix serious issues in the health care law.

The senator has said she would decide this month whether to run for governor. But Friday she said that debate over the health care proposal has pushed that decision back to Columbus Day, Oct. 9. Republican Gov. Paul LePage cannot run again due to term limits.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain declared his opposition Friday to the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” dealing a likely death blow to the legislation and, perhaps, to the Republican Party’s years of vows to kill the program. GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced his opposition, leaving Republicans at most one vote shy of the 50 votes needed.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would repeal major pillars of former President Barack Obama’s law, replacing them with block grants to states to design their own programs. Major medical groups are opposed, saying millions would lose insurance coverage and protections, and a bipartisan group of governors also announced opposition.

Collin’s concerns came despite a push for support of the proposal from LePage, who joined Republican Vice President Mike Pence in Washington on Friday to promote the legislation. LePage said the bill represents the “best chance” to reform the current system and to return decision-making on health care funding to the states.

The governor cited a study from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that he says shows Maine would gain more funding by 2026 under the Graham-Cassidy proposal.

But speaking to reporters in Maine, Collins said, “The numbers are all over the place depending on whose analysis you look at.”

She said it appears that the latest proposal’s cuts to Medicaid would more than offset any increased Affordable Care Act funding for Maine.

“This is a case where the federal government would be giving with one hand and taking away with the other,” she said.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.