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Collins confident health subsidies will be in spending bill

Collins confident health subsidies will be in spending bill
© Greg Nash

Funding for key ObamaCare insurer subsidies is likely to be included in the upcoming government funding bill, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Longtime Clinton confidant blames Comey for 2016 loss MORE (R-Maine) said Wednesday.

Collins said she had received reassurances Tuesday from Vice President Pence that the subsidies, opposed by House conservatives, would be in the funding bill.

“The vice president and I had a discussion yesterday that reinforced that agreement that the bills will be considered before the end of the year,” Collins said.

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Collins told reporters she is confident that deal will be honored in the upcoming government spending bill, and a key conservative in the House backed up her confidence.

“I think she has every reason to believe that it’ll be included,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHouse passes stopgap spending measure with defense money Senate leaders say they're zeroing in on two-year budget deal Republican agenda clouded by division MORE (R-N.C.). “I’m not supportive of that position, but I don’t know that she’s misled in her confidence.”

The Maine senator, a swing vote on the tax bill, reached an agreement with Senate GOP leaders that she would vote for the tax package as long as two bipartisan ObamaCare bills were passed before the end of the year.

One bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSanders wants pharma CEOs to testify on opioid crisis Trump expects us to trade clean air and water for updated infrastructure House GOP warming to ObamaCare fix MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayLawmakers eye retirement help for gig economy workers Overnight Regulation: Labor Department reportedly hid unfavorable report on tip-pooling rule | NY plans to sue EPA over water rule | Senators urge FTC to probe company selling fake Twitter followers Trump's vows to take on drug prices, opioids draw skepticism MORE (D-Wash.), would temporarily fund ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. Another would provide “reinsurance” — money to pay for the costs of sick enrollees and bring down premiums.

Together, the bills would shore up ObamaCare’s insurance markets, which experts predict could be gutted by a provision of the tax bill that repeals the mandate to buy health insurance

Collins said it appears that both bills will pass along with the next continuing resolution to fund the government, despite objections from House conservatives. The current funding bill expires Dec. 22.

That marks a change from just a few days ago when House conservatives showed little willingness to fund subsidies they see as bailing out a law they oppose. Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) said at the time he was never a part of a deal with Collins.

Meadows said including the payments could be “problematic” for conservatives, but Democratic support could make up for the lost Republican votes.