Collins Outlines Opposition to GOP Health Plan, says Trump Should Explain Wiretap Claim
AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins reiterated her concerns with a House Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.
Collins also said President Donald Trump owes Americans an explanation for his still unverified claim that President Obama ordered a wiretap of his phones at Trump Tower.
Collins is considered a key vote in either blocking or passing the GOP plan. Collins told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd that the proposal has three primary deficiencies, including a provision that shifts Medicaid costs to the states and projections that it will increase premiums for older Mainers and those in rural areas.
“We have to do something about the Medicaid changes, which shift billions of dollars of costs to the states, to hospitals and to other people who are insured,” she said.
Collins’ views on Medicaid are shared by other moderate Republicans who worry about the GOP plan to phase out the higher reimbursement rate offered through expansion of the program in the ACA.
More conservative Republicans believe the Medicaid proposal is too generous.
The opposition from both poles of the Republican party has put House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Trump administration in a difficult position. Altering the plan to satisfy the moderates could further alienate hard-liners, and vice versa.
As it stands, Collins says she can’t support the bill. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate to pass the health care plan.
Collins cited projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in explaining her opposition to the bill. The CBO last week projected that the GOP plan will increase the number of uninsured Americans to 14 million after the first year of implementation. In 10 years, the CBO projected 24 million more uninsured than if the ACA remained.
She also cited estimates that a 64-year-old Mainer making $26,500 a year and living in rural Maine will see their premiums increase from $1,700 under the ACA to $14,600.
“That’s unaffordable,” Collins said.
Collins also addressed her opposition to Trump’s budget blueprint that was released last week.
Todd also asked Collins about the president’s explosive, yet still unverified, claim that President Obama ordered a wiretap of his phones at Trump Tower during the election. Collins is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which gives her access to classified intelligence operations.
She said she has not seen any evidence that the president’s phones were surveilled and she encouraged Trump to turn over any evidence that he may have.
Todd asked if Trump should apologize to Obama if his claim proved fiction.
“I’d like to first get to the bottom of this before saying what should be done,” she said. "I don't know the basis for President Trump's assertion. And that's what I wish he would explain to us on the Intelligence Committee and to the American people. And I do believe he owes us that explanation."
Last week Republican Rep.Tom Cole, of Oklahoma, said Trump should apologize to Obama.
Todd also asked Collins whether the president’s series of false statements has hurt his credibility.
Collins said the president doesn’t always get “everything right,” but she still hopes that he’s successful.