Collins: Health-care fix will pass before tax bill

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine) said early Thursday that she expects legislation to lower health-care premiums to pass Congress before senators take a final vote on a $1.5 trillion tax-reform bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.

Collins, speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, said it’s a mistake to scrap the individual mandate without making other reforms to the health-care system.

“When you take out that one provision from the ACA it causes premiums to go up as healthier, younger people leave the market place,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Senate GOP leaders at the urging of conservatives have added to the tax package a provision that would repeal ObamaCare’s requirement that people purchase health coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that could cause insurance premiums to rise and increase the number of uninsured by 13 million people by 2027.

To mitigate the impact, GOP leaders plan to pass legislation negotiated by Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Wash.) that would reinstate cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies.

It will be paired with legislation sponsored by Collins and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Health Care: Ryan's office warns he wasn't part of ObamaCare deal | House conservatives push for mandate repeal in final tax bill | Dem wants probe into CVS-Aetna merger Ryan's office warning he wasn't part of deal on ObamaCare: source Overnight Health Care: Funding bill could provide help for children's health program | Questions for CVS-Aetna deal | Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill MORE (D-Fla.) that would set up health reinsurance programs for older and sicker individuals.

The measures are likely to be attached to a government stopgap funding bill, Collins said.

“I have met with the president of the United States about this and have gotten his endorsement, I’ve met with the Republican leadership and with the members of the Finance Committee,” she said. “They are most likely to be on the continuing resolution."

“Assuming the tax bill passes the Senate, we then turn to the CR and those two bills will be put on the CR,” she said.

“While the tax bill is in conference, the CR will presumably become law and then the tax bill come back from conference,” she said. “So I’m going to know whether those provisions made it and that matters hugely to me.”