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Collins 'optimistic' ObamaCare fixes will pass

Collins 'optimistic' ObamaCare fixes will pass
© 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 Monday that she is “optimistic” that the ObamaCare fixes she is pushing for can still pass, despite the deadline for voting on them having “slipped.”

“Our negotiations with the House are going very, very well,” Collins told reporters. “The deadline slipped but the policy is what is important.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) in December gave a commitment to Collins to support the passage of two bills aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets and lowering premiums before the end of the year, in exchange for her vote for the tax reform bill.

The end of the year came and went without votes on the two bills, but Collins said Monday she is still “optimistic.”

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She said she has spoken twice to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE (R-Wis.) about the measures, which have encountered strong resistance from House conservatives who fear they are bailing out ObamaCare.

“I've talked twice to the Speaker so I think we're making progress on that,” Collins said.

Collins and Sen. 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.) say they are hoping for inclusion of the measures in a long-term government funding bill, known as an omnibus, that could get a vote in the coming weeks.

“I think that's going along pretty well,” Alexander said Monday. “I think the objective is that would be part of the omnibus bill.”

The two measures, known as Alexander–Murray and Collins–Nelson, would provide funding aimed at bringing down ObamaCare premiums and stabilizing markets.

Sen. 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.) and other Democrats, though, are pushing for changes to Alexander–Murray, saying it needs to be reworked now that Republicans have destabilized the markets by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

Democrats say they have not made a proposal to Republicans on specific changes to the bill, yet, however.

And Alexander, for his part, has said he thinks the bills will remain “fundamentally” the same.

Ryan expressed openness to something like the Collins–Nelson bill earlier this month. That measure provides funding known as reinsurance to help pay for the claims of especially sick people and bring down premiums.

“I've talked to Susan Collins and Democrats about this,” Ryan said, adding that there could be a “bipartisan opportunity.”