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Sen. Susan Collins Keeps Moving the Goalposts on ACA Stabilization Bills

By January 5, 2018No Comments

FIRST, COLLINS SAID SHE WANTED ALEXANDER-MURRAY AND COLLINS-NELSON TO BE LAW BEFORE MOVING TO THE TAX BILL

November 19, 2017: “And I Would Like To See That Done Before We Go To The Tax Bill.” Collins: “ It’s a problem for me if it is not mitigated. But there is a way to mitigate the impact that it would have on insurance premiums. I do want to point out that that provision, all that provision says is that a person who chooses not to get insurance cannot be fined for that decision. That’s very different from what we were faced with this past summer and fall when insurance was being taken away from people who wanted to be insured. The fact is that those fines are paid by — overwhelmingly by people who make less than $50,000 a year, 80 percent of the people who pay the fines fall in that category. But I’m worried about the impact on premiums. And that’s why we’re going to need to pass legislation. And I would like to see that done before we go to the tax bill.” [ABC’s This Week, 11/19/17]

AND THEN, COLLINS SAID SHE WANTED THE TWO STABILIZATION BILLS TO BE LAW BEFORE THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE CAME BACK AND INDICATED SHE GOT PRESIDENT TRUMP TO SUPPORT THE TWO PIECES OF LEGISLATION

November 28, 2017: Collins: “I’m Pushing To Make Sure They Are Passed And Signed Into Law Prior To The Conference Report Coming Back.” “‘I’m pushing to make sure they are passed and signed into law prior to the conference report coming back,’ she said, ‘So I would know for certain that we’re going to be able to mitigate the impact of repealing the individual mandate.’ When reporters pointed out the possibility that there will be no conference committee, that the House just passes the bill as-is, Collins waved away that fear. ‘Everything I’m hearing is that there is going to be a conference committee,’ she said.” [TPM, 11/29/17]

November 28, 2017: Collins Insisted She Secured Support From President Trump For Alexander-Murray And Collins-Nelson. “Collins insisted Tuesday that she secured support from Trump for two bills she says would mitigate the damage of repealing the mandate—one to restore government subsidies to insurance companies that Trump defunded earlier this year and the other to set up a federal reinsurance program. ‘Collins-Nelson would provide seed money for states and authorize high-risk pools. That really helps insurers because it gives them much more certainty about what their claims are going to be like,’ she told TPM in a gaggle with reporters Tuesday afternoon. ‘Similarly, Alexander-Murray would reinstate the cost-sharing reductions and that helps low-income people with their co-pays, and it gives certainty to insurers so they don’t flee the market. So I think the combination of those two would be very powerful.’” [TPM, 11/29/17]

November 28, 2017: Collins: “ A Lot Of My Concerns Are Being Addressed.” “‘A lot of my concerns are being addressed,’ Collins told reporters after a lunch meeting with Trump in Washington.” [Press Herald, 11/28/17]

November 28, 2017: Collins: “While My Preference Is Still That The Individual Mandate Repeal Not Be Included In The Tax Bill, If It Is Included, It Essential That We Mitigate The Impact Of Premiums With The Alexander-Murray Bill And With Bipartisan Legislation I Introduced With Senator Bill Nelson…” “While making her most positive comments yet on the tax reform bill Tuesday, Collins stopped short of announcing her outright support, and she remains in the ‘undecided’ category. ‘I have had a number of good discussions with the White House and with my colleagues, and we are continuing to have productive negotiations. Many of these discussions have focused on my proposals to help middle-income families, including allowing a deduction for property taxes and helping to lower insurance premiums on the individual market to offset any increases that might result from repealing the individual mandate,’ Collins said in a written statement. ‘While my preference is still that the individual mandate repeal not be included in the tax bill,’ she said, ‘if it is included, it is essential that we mitigate the impact on premiums with the Alexander-Murray bill and with bipartisan legislation I introduced with Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, that would protect people with pre-existing conditions while lowering premiums through the use of high-risk pools.’” [Press Herald, 11/28/17]

AND THEN, COLLINS VOTED FOR THE SENATE TAX BILL

December 2, 2017: The Senate Passed Its Tax Bill 51-49. Collins Voted In Favor. [Senate Vote 303, 12/2/17]

AND THEN, SHE SAID SHE HAD A “COMMITMENT” TO PASS THE TWO BILLS

December 3, 2017: Collins: “I Got A Commitment That We’re Going To Pass Two Bills, Including The Alexander Murray Bill…And One That I’ve Authored That WIll Help Offset The Individual Mandate Repeal By Lowering Premiums.” I believe that the amendments that I added on medical expense deductions, on property tax deductions, on helping retirement security for public employees improved the bill. I got a commitment that we’re going to pass two bills, including the Alexander Murray bill…And one that I’ve authored that will help offset the individual mandate repeal by lowering premiums. And I also got an ironclad commitment that we’re not going to see cuts in the Medicaid/Medicare program as a result of this bill.” [Sen. Collins on Meet the Press, 12/3/17]

COLLINS VOTED FOR THE FINAL TAX BILL THAT BECAME LAW

December 20,2017: The Senate Passed The Conference Report Tax Bill 51-48. Collins Voted In Favor. [Senate Vote 323, 12/20/17]

AND THEN, COLLINS SAID SHE ASKED THAT THE STABILIZATION BILLS NOT BE INCLUDED IN THE CONTINUING RESOLUTION BILL AND INSTEAD WOULD OFFER IT DURING THE OMNIBUS BILL IN 2018, ALSO SAYING SPEAKER RYAN REITERATED HIS SUPPORT FOR PASSING HIGH RISK POOLS AND REINSURANCE BILLS

December 20, 2017: Collins And Alexander: “For This Reason, We Have Asked Senator McConnell Not To Offer This Week Our Legislation…Instead, We Will Offer It After The First Of The Year When The Senate Will Consider The Omnibus Spending Bill, [CHIP and CHCs], And Other Legislation.” United States Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today jointly released the following statement: ‘Rather than considering a broad year-end funding agreement as we expected, it has become clear that Congress will only be able to pass another short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown and to continue a few essential programs,’ said the Senators.  ‘For this reason, we have asked Senator McConnell not to offer this week our legislation which independent analysts Avalere and Oliver-Wyman say would reduce premiums by about 20 percent for the 9 million Americans who have no government subsidies to help them buy insurance in the individual market. Instead, we will offer it after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, funding for Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week.’” [Alexander and Collins Statement, 12/20/17]

December 20, 2017: Collins Said Speaker Paul Ryan Remained Committed To Passing Reinsurance And High-Risk Pools And “Pointed Out That By Waiting Until Early Next Year, We Will Be Able To Use A New CBO Baseline That Will Result In More Funding Being Available For Reinsurance…” “I appreciate the thoughtful and bipartisan effort that Chairman Alexander has led in the Senate health committee, and I look forward to working alongside him and Ranking Member Murray to enact these bipartisan bills and help make health insurance more affordable. This afternoon Speaker Paul Ryan called me and said that the House remains committed to passing legislation to provide for high-risk pools and other reinsurance mechanisms similar to the bipartisan legislation I have introduced. He pointed out that by waiting until early next year, we will be able to use a new CBO baseline that will result in more funding being available for reinsurance programs that have been proven effective in lowering premiums while protecting people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.” [Collins Statement, 12/20/17]

COLLINS SAID THE DEADLINE IS SLIPPING BUT STILL REMAINED CONFIDENT THEY WOULD BECOME LAW

December 20, 2017: Collins: “I Think The Policy Is More Important Than The Deadline, And The Deadline Is Slipping. And I’m The First To Say I’m Not Happy About That, That I’m Disappointed About That.” “Sen. Susan Collins announced Wednesday that crucial Affordable Care Act stabilization bills will be delayed until 2018 despite the promises she received from Republican leaders that they would be approved by the end of this year. Collins had emphasized passage of the two bills to secure her vote for the tax reform bill. ‘I think the policy is more important than the deadline, and the deadline is slipping. And I am the first to say that I am not happy about that, that I’m disappointed about that,’ Collins, a moderate Republican, told the Portland Press Herald in an interview Wednesday. ‘But I believe that at the end of the day, we’re going to end up where I want us to be – in fact, maybe even with a better bill.’” [Press Herald, 12/20/17]

AND NOW, COLLINS PUNTED ON THE TIMING, SAYING SHE WANTED TO BE DONE BY  2019

Collins Office Statement: “When The Mandate Is Repealed In 2019, We Must Have Other Health Care Reforms In Place To Prevent Further Increases In The Cost Of Health Insurance.” “In an interview with Inside Health Policy published Thursday, Collins said she hopes the policies she proposed will pass and be implemented before 2019, when the repeal of the individual mandate is expected to shrink the individual insurance market by several million people and drive up premiums by at least 10 percent. ‘When the mandate is repealed in 2019, we must have other health care reforms in place in order to prevent further increases in the cost of health insurance,’ Collins’ office said in a statement. ‘Senator Collins believes that averting these price spikes, particularly for low-income families, should be a goal that members of both parties can embrace.’” [TPM, 1/4/18]