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Politics

Maine's Two House Members Poised to Vote on GOP Health Care Plan

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's two members of the U.S. House are expected to vote today on a controversial bill to repeal key elements of the Affordable Care Act and replace them with provisions that could have wide ranging impacts on Mainers. 

Debate is underway for the American Health Care Act, also dubbed Trumpcare and Ryancare. The proposal is designed to fulfill a seven-year promise by Republicans to unravel President Obama's signature legislative achievement.

But the GOP's effort has been anything but easy. Moderates are concerned the bill will lead to higher premiums and worse coverage. Hardliners say the proposal doesn't go far enough to kill the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, of Maine's 2nd District, has wavered on the proposal, first signaling that he supported it, later announcing it needs changes. How he'll vote is still uncertain.

Meanwhile, 1st District Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree has opposed the bill from the get-go.

Just as the House began debate on the bill, she posted a video statement on Twitter, blasting revisions she says will repeal certain coverage for procedures mandated by the ACA.

Pingree then criticized a prominent talking point from Republicans, who argue their plan will give Americans more freedom to buy health insurance.

"Remember they're talking about freedom, but freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose," Pingree said. "We're going to see what happens today."

Pingree was quoting a Democratic colleague who, in today's House debate, quoted a line from Janis Joplin's rendition of the Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster song "Bobby McGee."

For his part, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King continues to voice opposition to the proposal.

Speaking during a roundtable of doctors and health care providers at the Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan, King said new changes to the Republican plan have only made a bad proposal worse.

He highlighted one provision that repeals a tax on pharmaceutical companies under the ACA.

“It adds $8 billion to seniors premiums under Part B of Medicare. So you’re repealing a tax on pharma and putting it on seniors,” King said.