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 CollinsOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk Senate panel to consider ban on prescription drug 'gag clauses' Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn 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 MeadowsWhite House lawyer’s presence at FBI meetings sets off alarm bells for Dems Centrists on cusp of forcing immigration votes as petition grows Paul Ryan’s political purgatory 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 AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Abortion rights group plans M campaign to flip the House Senate health committee to hold hearing on Trump drug pricing plan Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program Overnight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage 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 RyanThree House Dems say they'll oppose immigration floor vote over possible wall funding Dems after briefing: 'No evidence' spy placed in Trump campaign Senate approves new sexual harassment policy for Congress 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.