Susan Collins, the Maine Republican, got straight to the point in describing the new Senate health care bill: “Still deep cuts to Medicaid in Senate bill. Will vote no,” she tweeted yesterday. “Ready to work w/ GOP & Dem colleagues to fix flaws in ACA.”
Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican and another potential swing vote, was less straightforward. “I opposed the last draft of the Senate health proposal because I had concerns about the measure’s Medicaid policies,” Portman said in a statement. Later, he followed up saying that he was undecided about whether he would support this bill.
Here’s the problem for Portman: Collins is right. The Medicaid policies are virtually identical between the revised Senate bill and the previous bill. If Portman opposed the last bill because of how it would harm Medicaid recipients — and he did — he would logically need to oppose this one, too.
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The latest attempt by the US Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has failed to garner support from Maine’s senators. Though the bill does eliminate some unpopular provisions from earlier versions, the changes aren’t enough to gain traction with Senators Collins and King, and Maine health providers.
Previous proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have included tax breaks for high income earners. Those tax breaks have been scaled back in the latest version of the Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. There’s also more funding included to fight the opioid epidemic: $45 billion over the next decade. But one big problem remains: cuts to Medicaid. Senator Susan Collins tweeted that’s the reason she can’t support this latest proposal. Neither can Vanessa Santarelli, CEO of the Maine Primary Care Association.
“The deep cuts to the Medicaid program could be really damaging, particularly to a state like Maine and to our community health centers,” Santarelli says.
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Facing resistance from their own party, Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday they would postpone a vote on their healthcare bill until after the July 4th recess.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to provide more time to make changes to the bill to try to convince reluctant GOP senators to vote for the measure.
“We’re going to press on,” McConnell said, adding he remains optimistic. “We’re continuing to talk.”
Since the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill would leave 22 million more Americans without insurance after 10 years, several Republicans senators had said they would not even support allowing the bill to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
Meanwhile, President Trump invited all GOP senators to the White House for a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate who has expressed serious doubts about the bill, questioned whether revisions would make a difference.
“I have so many fundamental problems with the bill, that have been confirmed by the CBO report, that it’s difficult to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the bill,” Collins said on CNN.
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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Monday she would not vote for the Senate’s controversial health care bill, despite urging from fellow Republicans to pass the legislation as soon as this week.
In a series of tweets, Collins cited a Congressional Budget Office report released Monday that found the new bill would cause 22 million people to lose their insurance over the next 10 years. The Senate’s bill would also dramatically undercut federal funding for Medicaid and financial assistance for low- and middle-income people, all facts Collins said wouldn’t “fix ACA problems for rural Maine,” referring to the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.
The announcement is a significant blow to Senate Republicans, particularly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has scrambled to garner support for the bill, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday.
Read more of this story and view images of Sen. Collins’ tweets and a table that shows the differences between the Affordable Care Act and the two GOP versions to repeal and replace ACA.
Maine health providers from across the state spoke in Lewiston on Friday to denounce the Senate health care bill and urge Sen. Susan Collins to oppose it.
Portland family physician Dr. Sam Zager said the Senate bill will cut off care for patients.
“I think this gets to the core of what it means to have a civilized society,” he said. “Are we going to turn people out? Are we going to toss them off the ship and let them drown at sea? Or are we going to acknowledge that we have a responsibility for the welfare of those around us?”
The Senate bill would partially cut funding for the Medicaid program, which pays for the majority of long-term care costs for seniors and people with disabilities.
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Sen. Susan Collins says she will spend the next few days carefully reviewing the new Affordable Care Act repeal proposal, taking a hard look at an upcoming analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and considering what she has learned from her conversations with constituents in Maine.
We admire her diligence, but we think Collins already has enough information to know what she should do. This bill would be bad for Maine and bad for America, and the senator should speak out against it as forcefully as possible.
Collins’ voice has never been more important. Because of the way parliamentary rules are being applied, the 52 Republicans in the Senate are the only ones who get to make a meaningful impact in this debate. If only three Republican senators refuse to sign on, the bill will have to be renegotiated. Just hours after details of the bill were revealed, four hard-right senators said they might scuttle it if the cuts to health care aren’t even deeper than proposed.
Read more of the editorial in the Portland Press Herald.