Collins lets McConnell slide on promise to shore up insurance markets in 2017
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), in the face of staunch GOP opposition, is letting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slide away from his promise to pass legislation stabilizing health insurance premiums before year’s end.
Collins previously said she had an “ironclad” commitment to get it done before the new year, but with Congress set to recess in a few days, time is running out.
The proposal to pass legislation subsidizing insurance companies to soften the blow of repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate ran into stiff opposition from House conservatives, who insisted on anti-abortion language.
Collins acknowledged on Wednesday that McConnell and Vice President Pence won’t be able to keep their promise to enact the insurance stabilization legislation in exchange for voting for tax reform.
Collins and Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said in a statement Wednesday that they will introduce the insurance market stabilization proposal “after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill” and other priorities such as reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and funding for community health centers.
Collins extracted the promise from McConnell after the Congressional Budget Office projected that the tax-reform bill, which repeals the individual mandate, would increase premiums by 10 percent and result in 13 million more Americans without insurance by 2027.
The Maine Republican said she still thinks the insurance stabilization bill will pass, just not as quickly as she hoped.
“There is every reason to believe that these important provisions can and will be delivered as part of a bipartisan agreement. And Majority Leader McConnell has told us that he will uphold his commitment to schedule and support the legislation,” she and Alexander said in their joint statement.
Collins has asked McConnell to hold off on trying to move the ObamaCare-related bill this week because it has “become clear that Congress will only be able to pass another short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown and to continue a few essential programs,” according to the statement she released with Alexander.