OPIOID SERIES:

Sen. Susan Collins comes out against House GOP healthcare bill

Sen. Susan Collins comes out against House GOP healthcare bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign Trump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush MORE (R-Maine), a key centrist vote in the Senate, said in an interview published Thursday that she opposes the House GOP's ObamaCare replacement bill as it is currently written. 

“This is not a bill I could support in its current form,” Collins told the Portland Press Herald. “It really misses the mark.”

Collins pointed to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill earlier this week, which found that 24 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the plan. In particular, like other more centrist lawmakers in both chambers, Collins pointed to the finding that low-income people and seniors would have to pay far more for insurance under the House GOP bill, known as the American Heath Care Act, than under ObamaCare. 

ADVERTISEMENT
“This bill doesn’t come close to achieving the goal of allowing low-income seniors to purchase health insurance,” Collins said. 

Collins’s announcement illustrates how tough the path ahead for the bill is. It is already a serious question as to whether the measure has enough votes to pass the House, where both conservatives and centrists have strong objections. 

However, the path appears even harder in the Senate, where Republicans can lose just two votes. Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (R-Ky.) has already said he opposes the bill, in addition to Collins. Other conservative senators, including Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate confirms Trump’s pick to lead NASA Key senators warn Trump of North Korea effort on Syria Rep. Jordan: Action in Syria ‘should be debated in Congress’ MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules MORE (R-Texas), have strong objections, as do a range of more centrist Republican senators. 

House Republican centrists are worried about voting for the bill if it is only destined to die in the Senate. 

One possible change to the bill being pushed by some Republicans in both chambers is to increase the tax credits for low-income people and seniors, to address the affordability problems.  

“This is so complex. It’s important we do this right,” Collins said.