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Sen. Collins Cites ‘Concerns’ With Latest Republican Bid To Kill Obamacare

J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press/file
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine is surrounded by reporters as she heads to the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Republicans’ latest plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act looked to be in danger Monday, when U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said she has “concerns” about the proposal.

The moderate Republican hasn’t taken a formal position on the bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, but the road to passage may go through Collins because another Republican has already defected.

Maine’s senior senator was one of three Republicans who sunk the party’s last repeal bid in July. As expected, U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said through a spokesman on Monday that he opposes the new plan.

The Graham-Cassidy bill is being touted by supporters as a moderate alternative to past repeal proposals. It would eliminate subsidies for Affordable Care Act exchanges and a higher reimbursement rate for Medicaid expansion states, replacing that with lower block grants.

Opponents merely see it as a massive cut. The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the Graham-Cassidy bill would cut federal health care coverage in Maine by more than $1 billion by 2027, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office hasn’t yet weighed in.

In a Monday statement, Collins cited “a number of concerns” with the proposal, including Medicaid cuts, impact to Affordable Care Act requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions and the projected impact on Maine.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Republican leaders want a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill by month’s end. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, opposes it, so Republicans may need to woo Collins or Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to pass it on a party line.

Gov. Paul LePage came out in support of the proposal in a Sunday email sent by the Maine Republican Party urging supporters to lobby Collins and King to support the repeal bid. However, neither supported the previous effort despite LePage’s urging in July.

A King spokesman said in a Monday email that Graham-Cassidy “would harm both recipients and Maine’s rural hospitals” and that he’s opposed to the bill and any other repeal-and-replace measure.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.