Collins gets promise to pass ObamaCare funding this year

Collins gets promise to pass ObamaCare funding this year

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 Wednesday she has received a commitment from Senate GOP leadership to include ObamaCare funding in a must-pass bill.

Collins said she got a promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) that the deal crafted by Sens. 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 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 (D-Wash.) would be included in legislation this year.

"I do from the majority leader, and so we're working out the details of that," Collins told reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch when asked if she had a deal to pass Alexander-Murray.

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Pressed if the commitment was to include it in a must-pass bill before the end of the year, she added: "Yes."

"[The government funding bill] is certainly a possible vehicle but obviously there needs to be some discussions with the House," she said.

Collins said she is still undecided on if she will ultimately support the tax plan during a final passage vote expected this week, but will vote to start debate on Wednesday.

Asked if the ObamaCare payments would only get included if she votes "yes" on the tax legislation, or if the bill passes, Collins noted that she's having "ongoing negotiations" with McConnell, the Senate Finance Committee and the administration "on a host of issues."

Spokesmen for McConnell didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the agreement.

Collins has been pushing for lawmakers to pass Alexander-Murray, which provides two years of ObamaCare cost-sharing reduction payments, as well as her legislation with 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 provide funding for "reinsurance" programs aimed at bringing down premiums.

Passing both bills, Collins argues, is necessary after a repeal of ObamaCare's individual insurance mandate was included in the tax bill. She noted that the Collins-Nelson measure is also part of the deal.

"I still would prefer that the individual mandate [repeal] were not in the bill. ... It complicates this whole issue and when you pull one piece of the Affordable Care Act out it has an impact on premiums and that's why Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson are so important," she said.

Republicans added the individual mandate repeal to the bill amid pressure from conservatives and the Trump administration to use the tax bill to dismantle at least part of ObamaCare.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said earlier this month that repealing the individual mandate would result in an additional 13 million people becoming uninsured by 2027.

CBO Director Keith Hall said in a letter sent to Murray on Wednesday that her legislation with Alexander would do little to make up for premium increases or coverage losses if the mandate is repealed.