Collins: Health-care fix will pass before tax bill

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsIs a trap being set for Trump in the Senate trial? The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial MORE (R-Maine) said early Thursday that she expects legislation to lower health-care premiums to pass Congress before senators take a final vote on a $1.5 trillion tax-reform bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.

Collins, speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, said it’s a mistake to scrap the individual mandate without making other reforms to the health-care system.

“When you take out that one provision from the ACA it causes premiums to go up as healthier, younger people leave the market place,” she said.

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Senate GOP leaders at the urging of conservatives have added to the tax package a provision that would repeal ObamaCare’s requirement that people purchase health coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that could cause insurance premiums to rise and increase the number of uninsured by 13 million people by 2027.

To mitigate the impact, GOP leaders plan to pass legislation negotiated by Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Turf war derails push on surprise medical bills | Bill would tax e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaign | .5M ad blitz backs vulnerable Dems on drug prices Turf war derails bipartisan push on surprise medical bills MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills MORE (Wash.) that would reinstate cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies.

It will be paired with legislation sponsored by Collins and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonLobbying world Bottom Line Bottom Line MORE (D-Fla.) that would set up health reinsurance programs for older and sicker individuals.

The measures are likely to be attached to a government stopgap funding bill, Collins said.

“I have met with the president of the United States about this and have gotten his endorsement, I’ve met with the Republican leadership and with the members of the Finance Committee,” she said. “They are most likely to be on the continuing resolution."

“Assuming the tax bill passes the Senate, we then turn to the CR and those two bills will be put on the CR,” she said.

“While the tax bill is in conference, the CR will presumably become law and then the tax bill come back from conference,” she said. “So I’m going to know whether those provisions made it and that matters hugely to me.”