Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal

Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (R-Maine) said Sunday that she wants two bipartisan ObamaCare bills to pass before the Senate takes up a tax bill that repeals the health law’s individual mandate.

Collins, a key swing vote on the tax bill, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she did not think the mandate repeal should be in the tax bill, but she indicated she thinks the rise in premiums from repealing the mandate could be mitigated if two other bills passed first.

Those other bills are an ObamaCare stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn Murray30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Mulvaney sparks confusion with budget remarks | Trump spars with lawmakers on tariffs | Treasury looks to kill 300 tax regs | Intel chief's warning on debt MORE (D-Wash.) that would fund key payments to insurers for two years, and a bill she introduced with Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonGingrich says arming teachers only long-term solution to school shootings Florida students turn to activism in wake of shooting CNN invites Trump to town hall with parents, students of Florida high school MORE (D-Fla.) that would provide funding for "reinsurance" programs aimed at bringing down premiums. Reinsurance provides funding to help pay the cost of some especially sick enrollees, allowing insurers to lower premiums.

Collins did not definitively say if she would vote against the tax bill if the two other bills do not pass, but she did say she would like to see them dealt with first.

“I'm worried about the impact on premiums,” Collins said on ABC’s “This Week" during another Sunday interview. “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.”

That request could be very hard to meet, however, given that Democrats say they will block the Alexander-Murray bill from passing if Republicans keep the mandate repeal in the tax bill.

The Congressional Budget Office has found that if the mandate is repealed, premiums would rise 10 percent.

Collins argues her reinsurance bill would help cancel that out. Other Republicans have criticized reinsurance as just giving more money to insurers.

“I hope [mandate repeal] will be dropped, or that bills that have been introduced by Senators Alexander and Murray and Bill Nelson and myself will be adopted to mitigate the impact of those provisions,” Collins said.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-Alaska), another moderate, has also said Alexander-Murray could help ease her concerns about repealing the mandate. But Murkowski has not drawn as strong a line as Collins on the bill. Murkowski said on Friday that “one should not assume this is a precondition for my support for the tax bill.”